"A year-and-a-half ago, several of our county officials worked hand-in-hand with Senator Don Barrington and Representative Don Armes to help pass Oklahoma's Burn Ban Law. Now we get to see the benefit of being able to utilize this law in times of need," stated Ron Kirby, district 2 county commissioner.
In order to implement the burn ban, a majority of the Comanche County fire chiefs had to request a burn ban from the BOCC. Commissioners received this request on Thursday and added the item to their agenda. Individuals convicted of violating the resolution will be guilty of a misdemeanor and fined up to $500 and/or one (1) year in jail.
"The current weather conditions are very conducive to wildfires. Implementing a burn Ban is just an extra precaution we can take to help ensure the safety of people's lives and property. But ultimately it's up to each and every citizen to be responsible and not burn in these extreme conditions," said Clint Wagstaff, city/county emergency management director and Comanche County fire chief.
Under the burn ban, welders are still permitted to weld, use a cutting torch, grinder, etc as long as these activities are conducted over a non-combustible surface at least 10 feet by 10 feet, and when welding blankets or screens are used to cover flammable vegetation. In addition, wind speeds MUST be less than 20 mph AND another person, other than the welder, is monitoring the work with pressurized water or a fire extinguisher.
Outdoor campfires and bonfires are PROHIBITED. However, gas and charcoal grills are permitted providing the activity is conducted over a non-flammable surface AND at least five (5) feet from flammable vegetation.
"We've been very fortunate this year having very few wildfires and grass fires. But weather conditions have not gotten any better and we have seen several grass fires over the past few weeks endanger lives and property. We don't want to take any chances," added Gail Turner, BOCC chairman.
The burn ban is valid until Monday, January 26, when the BOCC will further review the weather conditions to determine if they will extend or discontinue the burn ban.
Visiting the Statue of Liberty deemed a non-essential service during government shutdown that splits the must-have and the can-waits.