Over the past few weeks, there have been an increasing amount of grass fires sweeping across parts of Oklahoma. With only minimal chances of precipitation later in the week, counties all over the State are being placed under a burn ban. Yesterday morning KOTV, News Channel Six, posted a list of 20 counties including Creek, Payne, and Rogers that have all been placed under a burn ban. At around 2:30 Monday afternoon, the article was updated to also include Okmulgee County. If you are caught violating the burn ban that has been put into place you will receive a minimum of a $500 fine.
The growing list comes after another large grass fire caused a power outage in Inola on Sunday evening. Firefighters believe the fire started after the wind knocked down a power line causing it to spark and ignite. The wind only served to spread the fire at a rapid pace. According to Fox 23, who spoke with Inola Firefighters, the fire began around 10 p.m. At one point, the fire stretched over 2 ½ miles wide, burning acres and acres of land. Although no homes were damaged by the grass fire, most of Inola Citizens were left without power from Sunday into Monday. The Inola School Superintendent was forced to call off school on Monday simply due to the power outage.
I am sure that everyone is well aware of the lack of rain and high winds lately, but I am not sure that people understand exactly how quickly these fires take off. A few weeks ago (prior to any burn bans) I wanted to clean up the limbs in my yard from the snow and ice storms. It was going to be nice out, and since the ground was still wet from snow and ice earlier in the week I figured I would not have to worry about catching the entire yard on fire. Well, I was right about one thing, it was wet. It was so wet I may have used an excessive amount of lighter fluid to get my fire started. Eventually I had a small fire. After a while I noticed small areas of my grass catching on fire. I could not believe it! Even with all the moisture we had recently received, the grass dried out and burned quicker than all the twigs and limbs I stacked.
We encourage everyone to be diligent when working outside with anything that could create a spark. I understand that individuals who are welders or electricians encounter these problems daily, but just be aware of your surroundings. For a complete list of counties under the burn ban check out: http://www.newson6.com/story/24555522/another-oklahoma-county-adopts-burn-ban