Prescribed burn conducted on Mount Scott

COMANCHE CO., OK (KSWO) - A long-awaited prescribed burn on Mount Scott has been started at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.

Officials started the fire Monday morning after years of planning, and they believe that it won't be out until the end of the week.

It's been more than 20 years since a prescribed burn took place on the mountain, and Prescribed Fire Specialist Richard Baker said those kind of burns need to happen every three to five years.

Baker started working on the plans for a prescribed burn back in 2015. He said they had to get the area around where they're burning ready and have the perfect weather conditions– something Baker said took years to fall into place.

"Our relative humidity is higher today than it has been," he said. "The wind direction is good but in a slower speed than we've had in the past month and we've been able to bring in people from multiple states to come in and help us. So that really brought us into prescription and ready to go."

Baker explained that safety is among the top priorities for the burn – as over 20 years' worth of dead trees, broken limbs and debris made for dangerous fire conditions.

"It would be next to impossible to stop and with the mountain being such a popular tourist attraction the people on top – there wouldn't be any way to get them down," he said.

Another reason the fire was started, Baker continued, was to help with vegetation.

"Grasslands need fire to stay viable and healthy," he said. "This will bring a lot of the big animals over here as this starts to green up for the spring."

Baker's hope was that Mount Scott reopens by the end of the week,  but he advised that residents check with the visitor's center before planning a trip to the top of the mountain.

Ultimately, Baker said the fire is going as planned and residents have nothing to worry about.

"We're in good shape right now. If something does start to go wrong, we've got the people that will take action on it and start getting it put out."

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