Extreme Fire Danger Alert in Place for Southwestern Oklahoma this WeekendSat, 20 Jan 2018 10:06:32 CST
Oklahoma Forestry Services and the National Weather Service have been closely monitoring fuel and weather conditions and are warning extreme fire danger exists generally south of I-40 and west of US 81 this weekend. Citizens are urged to delay any activity that might spark a fire.
“Your actions can make a difference with these types of conditions and we are asking everyone to take care or delay any activities that could spark a blaze,” said State Forester George Geissler. “It is incredibly dry out there and any fire that starts will spread rapidly making suppression very difficult.”
Officials are also urging citizens to report any suspicious smoke or fire to their closest fire department by calling 911. Quick response by firefighters in these conditions can make a difference and keep fire size small.
Oklahoma Forestry Services will pre-position wildland firefighting resources near areas that are predicted to experience the worst fire behavior, minimizing response time. Oklahoma National Guard and Oklahoma Highway Patrol aircraft, and county wildland task forces are ready to deploy as needed.
An approaching cold front that will move across the state Sunday night will drive fire danger into the extreme category across much of western Oklahoma and very high fire danger indices into the I-35 corridor.
“We are going to see these conditions continue to ebb and flow until we receive significant moisture,” said Geissler. “Predictive services are putting Oklahoma in the bullseye for a very bad winter fire season that is predicted to last until late March or early April.”
Curtailing of everyday activities like outdoor grilling, welding, and any other activity that could spark a blaze can make a real difference in new fire starts. Safety of the firefighters and public is of the utmost concern and one of the main threats for firefighters will be rapid spread of any fire start. Firefighter safety messages will be pushed out via email from OFS to assist departments in safety briefings of crews who deploy on wildland fires.
County issued burn bans are currently in effect for Alfalfa, Beaver, Cimarron, Grant, Harper, Jefferson, Major, Texas and Woodward.
Oklahoma Forestry Services is the state’s lead agency related to wildland fire prevention, protection and use. For additional information about wildfires, visit www.forestry.ok.gov/wildfire-information.
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