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January 14, 2014

Commissioners declare burn ban for Stephens County

DUNCAN — Stephens County commissioners on Monday banned outdoor burning for at least 30 days after after an outbreak of grassfires in the area.

The Stephens County ban is the first to be issued in Oklahoma this year, the state’s forestry service said.

“We need to be proactive, not reactive,” said Dayton Burnside, Duncan Fire Department chief. “We responded to three grassfires this weekend and they are slowly picking up, that’s why we fully support the burn ban.”

Gary Ball, Stephens County emergency management director, said the fire threat will last all week.

“It’s going to get worse,” he said.

The ban prohibits trash burning, campfires and any other outdoor fires. Violators can be fined up to $500 and sentenced to a year in jail.

A wildfire that occurred north of Rush Springs destroyed some of the fenceline along U.S. 81, which the state will repair because it owns and maintains the so-called “varmint fence” wherever the highway has four lanes, said Rick Davis, Grady County superintendent 1.

Low humidy, high temperatures and sustained winds will keep the fire danger high on Tuesday, state officials said.

“Any fire that starts will spread rapidly so we are urging everyone to delay any outdoor activity that might spark a blaze,” said George Geissler of the state’s forestry service.

Many fires are sparked by vehicles dragging chains or being drive on their rims after flat tires, he said.

“We are just asking Oklahomans to remain vigilant as we enter our winter fire season,” Geissler said.

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