Oklahoma Forestry Officials Urge Fire Safety Over The Holiday

Thursday, June 30th 2011, 3:47 pm
By: News 9


OKLAHOMA CITY -- As Oklahomans prepare for a fun-filled July 4th weekend officials with Oklahoma Forestry Services, a division of the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, want citizens to be aware of the potential for wildfires.

"We want people to enjoy their holiday celebrations," said George Geissler, State Forester. "With our extremely dry conditions simple activities like grilling, campfires and fireworks can spark a wildfire and we urge Oklahomans to follow Smokey Bear's advice—In a drought, keep FIRE out!"

Though parts of the state received some rainfall, it will take a significant amount to ease the situation. A burn ban is in place for almost half of Oklahoma's 77 counties with changes occurring daily. Many restrict the use of fireworks by individuals. In addition the use of fireworks is prohibited in many cities and all Oklahoma State Parks.

For citizens wanting specific information regarding restrictions in their area OFS recommends they call their county or city officials. Visit OFS website www.forestry.ok.gov for a complete list of county burn bans and links to each commissioner's resolution as each county has unique and varied restrictions.

"As Oklahoma continues this hot and dry weather pattern, the risk of wildfire continues to increase and even the smallest spark can start a fire," said Geissler. "So far the occurrence of wildfires across the state has been low compared to other neighboring states and we want to maintain the current situation."

Fireworks Safety Tips

• Use fireworks under close adult supervision in safe areas away from dry grass and brush.
• Keep fireworks away from homes and structures, which can be accidentally ignited.
• Keep a hose, bucket of water and wet towels nearby to extinguish small fires.
• Dispose of used fireworks in a bucket of water.

Grilling and Campfire Safety Tips

• Consider using propane stove or barbecue grill instead of an open fire when it's dry and windy.
• Put barbecue grills over bare dirt or other fire resistant surfaces – away from dead grass and weeds. Never transport a barbecue pit or grill with live coals.
• Build campfires in open, level spots away from trees and overhanging branches; preferably in designated fire rings or fire receptacles.
• Never leave a campfire or cooking fire unattended. Completely extinguish the fire with water before leaving it. The ashes and coals are not safe to leave until they are cool enough to touch.