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Overgrown lot concerns Duncan citizens

A 77 acre plot of ground in Stephen's County could be a potential fire hazard and it's located in the heart of Duncan.  Last year there were deadly wildfires and some citizens are afraid there might be a repeat.  Leo Watson lives just north of the acreage and went to the city to get some answers about this possible threat to the community.  This is a very serious concern for the residents who live near the land and they presented a petition to the City Council in January.  It was signed by all the homeowners on Park Drive, just north of the property they say is a fire hazard.  But, Watson says nothing was ever done.

"It's right at the end of this street...," said Watson.  He says there is nothing anyone could do if a fire started on the property.  "The sparks from that in a high wind would be over our settlement before they could get out of the fire house," he said.  He tells 7News that the field is growing out of control and the grass and trees are a fire waiting to happen.  With the cedars on the land, Watson says he's concerned about the potential for a fire.  He took his concern to the city and this time they listened. 

"We have to look at the property as we would any public nuisance basis," says Duncan City Manager Clyde Shaw.  "If the grass and weeds are taller than 12 inches, by statute it can be declared a public nuisance.  So we can have the property mowed if the property owner doesn't do it."  So, they did.  He says they mowed on the west side and northeast corner and all that did was stir up pests. 

Watson says that isn't enough.  He says it's the trees that are the danger.  They're too thick and tall; the city disagrees.  "There's nothing in the statute or in our ordinances that prevent trees form growing in the undeveloped areas or in an individual's lot or home," says Shaw.  The city sent representatives to check the field out, but it looks like it's going to be another waiting game.  The city says they are talking with the landowners to try to find a way to alleviate the concerns.  According to Oklahoma law, the city must take care of weeds - anything over 12 inches tall that can "harbor rodents or vermin" or "constitute a fire or traffic hazard".

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