Governor issues burn ban

Tuesday, January 29th 2008, 9:07 am
By: News 9

Gov. Brad Henry ordered a statewide burn ban Tuesday after high winds fueled fires across the state.

The governor's office announced the decision Tuesday afternoon after reviewing weather data and discussing fire conditions with forestry officials in the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, according to a press release.    

"We need to do everything we can to protect lives and property," Henry said in the release. "With the dry weather and high winds, conditions are very hazardous and even the smallest fire can quickly get out of control.  

"I'm urging all Oklahomans to exercise caution and use common sense. A burn ban won't prevent every fire, but it will help lessen the danger."

Under the governor's executive order, outdoor burning is banned, but there are some exemptions for low risk activities such as charcoal and gas grilling. Occupations such as welding can also be exempt provided tradesmen follow specific protections outlined by the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture.

Violations of the ban are misdemeanors punishable by as much as a $500 fine and one-year imprisonment.

Fierce winds, dry conditions and lingering debris from December's massive ice storm exacerbated a high fire danger across Oklahoma, driving numerous grass fires, kicking up dust and blowing tree limbs into power lines, authorities said.

There were no reports of injuries with any of the fires on Tuesday, the third consecutive day firefighters from across the state battled runaway flames.

Contributing: Associated Press