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Burn ban issued for Stephens County

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STEPHENS COUNTY, Okla._Strong north winds and the extremely dry ground make for the perfect conditions for a fire, so yesterday the Stephens County Commissioners issued a burn ban. That makes it unlawful for anyone to burn brush, grass, trash or start a campfire. If you are caught doing any of those things you could get a fine, or even go to jail.

Unfortunately, one landowner just southwest of Velma didn't get the message about the burn ban and decided to burn some brush near his garden around noon Tuesday and it quickly got away from him, but luckily the Velma Volunteer Fire Department quickly came to the rescue and put out the blaze before it got  out of control.

"If this fire would have gone the other direction or across this road, we could've been out here for days trying to get it out," said James Roberts.

That's why Roberts says it's extremely important to pay attention and to take burn bans seriously.

"Right now it's no outdoor burning, such as brush fires, barbecue pits. I believe gas grills are acceptable at this time," said Roberts.

In these windy and dry conditions firefighters say a small brush fire can get out of control in a matter of minutes, and while you think you can contain it you can't. So they say to not even take the chance.

"A little fire can get to a big fire really fast right now, so they put the issue on the burn ban to try to discourage outdoor burning so we don't see any big fires," said Roberts.

Roberts says while they don't encourage it, if you absolutely have to burn something call your local fire department first.

"Sometimes we can come out here and sit with it and make sure it doesn't get anywhere if you have to burn it, but if you don't have to burn it, don't," said Roberts.

Roberts thinks other Oklahoma counties will get in line behind them and start issuing burn bans.

"We've been pretty good about putting the burn bans on earlier than what's really needed just for precaution. It's better to put the burn bans on sooner than later," said Roberts.

The burn ban is currently set to be lifted after thirty days but if conditions stay the same it could last longer. To find a list of the guidelines during a burn ban, you can visit forestry.ok.gov.

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