Extreme Drought Conditions Pose Wildfire Risk

Monday, June 20th 2011, 1:04 pm
By: News 9


OKLAHOMA CITY -- Officials with Oklahoma Forestry Services warns the public of a critical fire danger west of I-35.

Portions of western Oklahoma are now classified as having extreme to exceptional drought conditions. Fuel conditions are critical and any fuel fire comes in contact with will combust.

"There is the potential for large fires to occur throughout much of Oklahoma," said George Geissler, Oklahoma State Forester. "With the continued high temperatures and gusty winds, wildland fuels have dried dramatically and can be easily ignited by a spark. This situation does not look to improve in the near future."

Any fire starting under the forecast conditions has the potential to spread rapidly and burn large areas. Citizens are urged to be vigilant with outdoor activities and are asked to report any suspicious smoke or fire to their closest fire department.

Homeowners can also make their homes more defensible by moving trash, debris and other flammable items like firewood piles or portable propane tanks a safe distance away from their homes.

Though western Oklahoma is the primary area of concern, OFS officials are cautioning that the entire state could experience fire activity. Safety of the firefighters and public is of the utmost concern. With today's weather forecast calling for temperatures in the upper 90s to over 100 and very low relative humidity, one of the main threats for firefighters will be heat stress and heat-related issues.