Despite Severe Drought, Some Oklahoma Counties Not Under Burn Ban

Thursday, April 7th 2011, 4:51 pm
By: News 9

Adrianna Iwasinski, News 9

GUTHRIE, Oklahoma -- More than half of the state's counties are under a burn ban right now. But Logan County and several others are not, despite drought conditions and lack of rain.

Turns out, by law, county commissioners have to meet a list of criteria before they can institute a burn ban or keep one in place.

Each county must meet the following standards:

  1. Drought conditions
  2. Less than half an inch of rain
  3. Above normal fire occurrences
  4. More than 20 percent of fires caused by escaped debris
  5. Most of the fire departments must support the burn ban

While Oklahoma County remains under a burn ban, neighboring Logan, Lincoln and Kingfisher Counties are not.

Logan County recently lifted its burn ban, saying it doesn't meet all the criteria anymore. District One County Commissioner Mark Sharpton said only one of the 13 fire departments in the county was in support of keeping the ban.

Vera Mefferd has lived along Peebly Road and Highway 105 for 21 years. She nearly lost her house to a wildfire in January.

"The smoke started coming and then here it comes. And we saved this place with garden hoses and shovels, got close but it didn't get us," Mefferd said.

Her neighbors were not as lucky.

Now she and her sister fear without the burn ban in place, they will be at risk again.

"It's still dry. It's going to reburn. They don't need to be lifting it. My husband is a volunteer firefighter and we are constantly on edge every day," Mefferd said.

Sharpton said no one has called them to complain about the burn ban being lifted.

Right now, 47 of Oklahoma's 77 counties are under a burn ban.