Comanche, Stephens County remain without burn bans

LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - Much of Texoma is under a burn ban but among the areas missing from the list are some of our biggest counties.

Comanche, Stephens and Wichita counties still have not issued burn bans and at least in the case of Comanche County, it's because they're not legally allowed to yet.

Anytime we get these high fire danger conditions chances are there will be burn bans accompanying them. Those burn bans are on a county-by-county basis but counties don't actually have 100-percent of the say in starting those burn bans. There are laws in place that set limitations that must be met in order for a burn ban to be enacted.

Comanche County Emergency Management Public Information Officer Ashleigh Hensch said there are three requirements they must meet to issue a burn ban.

"For a county burn ban, the commissioners have to establish that there is extreme fire danger in the county and issue a proclamation that there is a burn ban," Hensch said. "The law says that we have to number one be in a severe, extreme or exceptional drought condition as defined by N.O.A.A."

N.O.A.A. is the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration and along with following its guidelines for drought conditions, Hensch said the county must have no more than one-half inch of precipitation forecasted for the next three days, according to the National Weather Service. A third requirement takes a couple other factors into account.

"Either the fires that we've been having, if we haven't been able to control them or they've been hard to contain, that goes into account. Or if 20-percent of the fires are from controlled burns," Hensch said.

Hensch said in Comanche County, there have been discussions about potential burn bans but as of right now, they do not meet the legal requirements.

"We've had discussions with our fire chiefs, we've been putting it out there to ask them what their opinion is, how have the fires been acting with them, what they think about it. We haven't had a big general consensus on it and we haven't met all of the requirements," Hensch said. "Our area is still in a moderate drought, we have a small portion that is in a severe drought in our southwest corner but we're still not quite there."

Hensch said those requirements being put in place help protect people who rely on burning for their way of life.

"In our area, we have a lot of rural community they do a lot of burning that they need to do for crops and pastures so we have to take in consideration the law so that we're not putting people out for activities they need to be doing," Hensch said.

Hensch said even though Comanche County is not a burn ban, we still have high fire danger so you still need to be careful with your burning activities. She said if you can postpone any burns until we get better weather it is appreciated. Also, she said you should make sure you aren't dragging any chains behind your vehicles and dispose of your cigarettes correctly.

Copyright 2018 KSWO. All rights reserved.