The Duncan Banner

February 19, 2014

Commissioners to discuss new burn ban next week

Steve Olafson
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — It’s dry — again — and some volunteer firefighters in Stephens County think it’s time to renew the ban on outdoor burning as a preventive measure against wildfires.

County Commissioner Lonnie Estes said Tuesday volunteer fire departments in his district on the east side of the county want the burn ban reinstated.

A burn ban was rescinded after winter storms brought snow and ice to the area earlier this month.

The issue will be discussed next week when commissioners meet again. County Commissioner Dee Bowen noted that one criteria for prohibiting outdoor burning is evidence that more than 20 percent of the fires in county have been caused by escaped debris or controlled burning.

Eleven of the state’s 77 counties have burn bans in place now, according to the state forestry service. Jefferson County commissioners voted on Tuesday to extend their county’s ban on outdoor burning for 30 days.

The Oklahoma Mesonet monitoring station at Ketchum Ranch, located 7 miles northwest of Velma in Stephens County, has recorded 0.56 of preciptation this year. In the last 90 days it has measured 1.60 of precipitation.

Total rainfall during the past year in Southwest Oklahoma is 6.44 inches below normal, according to the state climatological survey, which rates the fire danger as high.