Monday, January 23, 2017

State Has Elevated Wildfire Danger

Oklahoma Forestry Services (OFS) advised against outdoor burning in a press release issued Monday.

Mark Goeller, OFS fire management chief, said, “Oklahoma is officially in our winter fire season. This is a period where grasses and other fuels are dry, dormant and readily available to burn. Combine that with strong winds, low humidity and increasing drought indices and the state begins seeing increasing fire activity throughout the winter season.”

Monday and Tuesday are predicted to be two of those days and Oklahomans are being asked to limit outdoor activities that might spark a blaze. A generally dry pattern appears to be setting up and the highest fire danger will be in western Oklahoma extending across much of southwest Oklahoma, up the western tier of counties and into the Panhandle. However, an elevated fire danger will be present across much of the state.

Goeller said, “We have frequent discussions with National Weather Services, monitor drought and soil conditions and assess fuel conditions. In advance of predicted fire weather, we often pre-position task forces to be closer to the watch areas and have a quicker response time to work alongside local resources.

“Tuesday will likely bring fire weather conditions that will bump fire weather watch or warning criteria in western Oklahoma and bring much drier fuel conditions to eastern Oklahoma,” said Goeller. “Sustained southwest winds around 25 mph are expected across much of the western half of Oklahoma with the strongest gusts – near 40 mph - reserved for southwestern Oklahoma. The entire state will experience high fire danger.”

Outdoor burning is discouraged and citizens are asked to report any new fires or suspicious smoke to the closest fire department. Safety of the firefighters and public is of the utmost concern and with this weather forecast one of the main threats for firefighters will be rapid spread of any fires that start. 

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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