State Forestry Service On Alert, Ready To Respond To Potential Wildfires

Wednesday, January 8th 2020, 1:19 pm
By: Storme Jones

Fire departments across the western half of Oklahoma are on alert Tuesday for the potential spread of large wildfires.

The Oklahoma Forestry Service staged additional crews and equipment in Guthrie, with three aircraft on standby.

“We can expect large wind driven fires,” State Forester Mark Goeller said. “Today, just about anything could start a fire.”

Guthrie Fire Chief Eric Harlow said together, above average temperatures, low humidity, strong winds and dormant vegetation create favorable conditions for the spread of fires.

“We had a really wet year in 2019, so all of our vegetation is grown really tall, which when wintertime comes along and causes all of that to die due to freezing weather, we have a huge fuel load just ready to burn,” Harlow said.

Goeller said his crews are staged in central Oklahoma to ensure a quick response. 

“Fire departments across the state are going to send more resources initially than they would normally,” Goeller said.

“We beef it up,” Harlow said. “It makes us a little nervous, but we have got to make sure our manpower and our resources are ready to go if stuff happens.”

Fire officials across the state are urging people to not burn, weld, let vehicle chains drag or throw out cigarettes.

“Please be careful of any ignition source outside because it could start a fire that could be devastating,” Goeller said.