Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

June 29, 2012

Officials warn against open burning

TAHLEQUAH — Local and state officials are urging folks to consider the conditions outside when thinking about starting a camp fire, brush fire, or even an outdoor grill.

Tahlequah Fire Chief Ray Hammons said the community is at the point where open burning should be put on hold, even though there are currently no burn bans at the state level.

“We don’t need to do that anymore until we get some significant rainfall,” said Hammons.

“The wind factor is a big factor right now, too. Because of the humidity level and the lack of rain, hold off on burning right now.”

Burns inside the city limits are prohibited by ordinance, except for grilling, without first receiving a burn permit and having a site inspection, which can be handled through city hall, Hammons said.

For those inside the city who might be grilling, or those outside the city who may want to kindle a brush pile or light a bonfire, Hammons said they should always have an extinguishing source nearby.

“Have a water hose or a fire extinguisher, and try not to burn where coals can fall down and combust on something like grass,” said Hammons. “Do it on a concrete slab or on gravel – and of course, never leave the coals unattended.”

Hammons suggest adults use a shovel – particularly, those made for grills – to scoop up the hot coals and place them inside a metal bucket with water.

State officials are also urging caution for Oklahomans.

“We want people to enjoy their recreational activities,” State Forester George Geissler said in a news release Thursday, “but we urge everyone to be extra careful with outdoor activities like grilling, campfires and fireworks that can spark a wildfire.”

Geissler said the forecast calls for triple-digit temperatures for several days, and rainfall so far this year has been “spotty.” Meanwhile, parts of the state are extremely dry, with moderate to severe drought readings.

“As Oklahoma is beginning to experience higher temperatures and lower humidity, the risk of wildfire increases,” said Geissler.

“So far, the occurrence of fires across the state has been low compared to other states and we want to do everything we can to keep it that way. We can’t control Mother Nature, but we can exercise extreme caution with outdoor activities that could spark a wildfire.”

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