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No burn ban for Comanche County

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COMANCHE COUNTY, Okla._Comanche County will not be in a burn ban after a decision made in Monday morning's commissioner meeting.

Emergency Management Director, Clint Wagstaff, made the statement of how the county does not meet the requirements to go into a burn ban once again Monday morning. One of the primary reasons is the number of fires that the county has had is not above normal for this time of year.

It's all a part of a check list that is required by state law, and to issue a burn ban all 6 of the criteria must be met. The list includes: drought conditions, less than ½ of an inch of precipitation is forecasted over the next three days, fire occurrence is above normal, more than 20% of wildfires being caused by escaped debris, most of the local fire departments support the ban, exceptions were considered to the ban. If even a single one is not met, by state law, the county can't issue a burn ban. 

Under current conditions, Wagstaff believes not being in a burn ban is the right decision and he's not the only one who feels this way, "We do have to poll all the fire departments when we think about putting a burn ban in, and their opinion as of right now is that we do not need one because we have not had the occurrence of fires that are out of control."

The county has had fires in the area but all of the departments have been putting those out fairly easily. If the fires needed more help to extinguish, then Wagstaff believes there would be consideration for a burn ban, "If we get some fires where we can not control them with 2 or 3 or 4 departments and we have more than one in an instance we'll look at doing a burn ban."

Another requirement for a burn ban is that at least 20 percent of the fires have to have been caused by a controlled burn that got out of control, that condition also has not been met. For those who depend on controlled burns this time of year, such as farmers, a preventive ban would seriously impact their livelihood.

"A lot of farmers, because we are in a rural community, do a lot of crop burning to get ready for the next season.  If we put a burn ban in the farmers and ranchers would not be able to get the field ready for the next planting season," said Wagstaff.

If conditions do get worse and all the criteria are met, state law allows commissioners to call an emergency meeting to enact the ban. 

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