Comanche County under burn ban - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Comanche County under burn ban

COMANCHE COUNTY, Okla._Comanche County Commissioners have enacted a 30-day burn ban starting September 2, 2014.

Commissioners say the burn ban was necessary due to recent grassfires and the lack of rain.

"We've had some fires that have been really fast growing. Luckily the departments have been really fast getting into them. We've been really lucky the other departments are stepping up and coming out to help, but it would take just one fire and it could burn fast and go," said Chloe Lewis, interim emergency management director.

The burn ban makes it illegal for anyone to set fire to any forest, grass, woods, wildlands or marsh. It also bans anyone from building a bonfire, outdoor fire, igniting fireworks or burning trash or other materials outdoors.

There are, however, a few exemptions from the ban. Road construction crews are allowed to use propane or other controlled-type burners. They are encouraged to have a water pumper on stand-by anytime a burner is used near a grassy right-of-way. For other types of burners, a safety zone wider than the flame length is recommended. Safety must always be applied when using a burner around road construction.

Welding, grinding and the use of a cutting torch have been linked to many fires each year. While the danger is high, they can still be used under certain conditions. They can be used over a non-combustible surface of at least 10 feet by 10 feet and when welding blankets or screens are used to cover flammable vegetation. Wind speeds must also be less than 20 miles per hour. The third and final condition includes making use of a fire watcher, other than the welder. The fire watcher must be posted at the work site with either a fire extinguisher or pressurized water.

Wood debris, including limbs and branches, may be burned under strict guidelines. An air-curtain incinerator must be used, the Department of Environmental Quality Open Burning rules must be followed and 100 feet around the burn site must be cleared of vegetation. Wind speeds must also be less than 15 miles per hour and water and water pumping equipment must be on-site as well.

Fireworks are only allowed if they are a part of an organized fireworks display and have been approved by the municipality and conducted by trained professionals who have been approved by either a local fire department or by the State Fire Marshal's Office.

Native American ceremonial fires conducted in Sweat Lodges can be used so long as it is done over a non-flammable surface that is at least 10 feet by 10 feet.

Outdoor cooking is still allowed. Cooking with a campfire or bonfire is not allowed, using a propane, natural gas or charcoal grill is allowed. The allowed cooking methods must be done over a non-flammable surface that is at least five feet from flammable vegetation. Any fire that results from using any of the allowed outdoor cooking methods will be considered an illegal fire.

The burn ban will stay in effect until October 2, 2014, unless it is extended. Violators face up to a $500 fine and a maximum of one year imprisonment.

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