State Forester Mark Goeller Predicts Severe Wildfire Season in March And AprilWed, 27 Jan 2021 09:05:52 CST
The next few months could see a return of damaging wildfires to many areas of Oklahoma, said Mark Goeller, state forester and director of Oklahoma Forestry Services.
Goeller was recently interview by Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays.
We can have a fire anytime of the year here in Oklahoma, he said, based on weather and fuel conditions.
We are always prepared for fire despite what time of year it is, he said.
March through April is going to be our most active wildfire season this year because of La Nina, which typically means warmer and dryer conditions, he said.
The most recent La Nina years 2016-2018 saw large damaging out of control fires across western and northwestern Oklahoma.
We saw significant loss to livestock and infrastructure those years, he said.
What weíre looking at in 2021 is typically warmer and dryer and with our fuel growth out there will help sustain a fire, Goeller said.
People often refer to our fires in Oklahoma as grassfires but Goeller said our fires often are a mixture of fuel sources.
Grass carries the fire, but they burn through numerous other materials such as trees and leaves and other types of fuel, Goeller said.
The Oklahoma forestry expert offered several ways landowners can reduce the loss from wildfires.
Make sure grass is mowed short around homes, he said.
Trim any volatile vegetation such as trees at least six feet up off the ground, he said, which will help prevent fires from climbing into the crown of the tree.
Itís often wind-blown embers that burn homes so anything you can do to move the fuel complex back at least 30 feet around the house increases the structureís survivability and gives a place for the firefighters to work, he said.
Consider anything that can catch fire and move it away from the house or structure, he added.
The State Forester noted trees such as the Eastern Red Cedar are often considered a prime fire fuel, but it is not the only problematic vegetation.
Red Cedar is one of many species that can cause problems because of the oil, he said.
In northwestern Oklahoma we have sage brush and in southeastern Oklahoma we have shortleaf and loblolly pine, he said.
Goeller added widespread state and countywide burn bans are expected later in the season.
You can click on the listen bar below to hear more of Ronís interview with Mark Goeller.
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