Wildfire Danger High This Week In Parts Of Oklahoma

Wednesday, March 16th 2011, 11:50 am
By: News 9


OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Oklahoma Forestry Service (OFS) is warning people to be careful because of the high risk of large fires in parts of the state through Thursday.

OFS said the potential for fires is highest west of Interstate 35.

"The conditions predicted for Thursday have the potential for extreme wildfire behavior," said George Geissler, Oklahoma State Forester. "We are urging people not do any burning. This would include open campfires, debris burning or any other outdoor activity that could spark a wildfire."

Strong, sustained winds of 20 t0 30 mph are expected in the western part of the state. The winds combined with dry conditions, higher temperatures and low humidity could rapidly spread wildfires.

"With the wind and weather and humidity it makes for a critical fire danger to do very extraordinary things," said Deer Creek volunteer firefighter Eric Harlow.

Assistant Chief Harlow added one the biggest challenge is the heat since their firefighters are not acclimated to the hot temperatures yet, which can pose a problem.

OFS is coordinating with state and federal wildland fire resources for response if necessary, as well as communicating with Oklahoma Emergency Management and fire departments across the state about the predicted high fire danger. OFS Wildland Task Forces and firefighting personnel are also prepared for mobilization.

"It doesn't take much for it to go, so we look for smoke or people illegally burning, but we also look for other dangers or fallen trees that could cause a fire break," said Luther Fire Chief Jason Maynard.

Along the Turner Turnpike, and other major highways, is always an area of concern for firefighters because of cigarette butts thrown out by drivers and also dragging chains.

"We're just making sure we've got plenty of drinking water in our vehicles," said Deer Creek volunteer firefighter Eric Harlow. "Checking all the supplies on the truck. We're going out of our way to make sure everything is in good operational order."

The Oklahoma Forestry Service website has tips on preventing wildfires and protecting your home.