Hot, dry weather has prompted nearly two dozen Oklahoma counties to outlaw outdoor fires this summer, however, Pontotoc County has had enough moisture recently that it does not need to adopt a burn ban, emergency management director Chad Letellier said Wednesday.
“The reason we’re not considering one is because we’ve had sufficient rain around the county in the last week to preclude a burn ban,” he said.
He said county officials will continue monitoring the weather and may consider a burn ban if the temperature rises and humidity drops.
Twenty-two counties, including Seminole and Pottawatomie counties, are under a burn ban because officials are expecting hot temperatures and little rain in the coming days and weeks, according to Wednesday’s edition of The Oklahoman.
Officials in each county decide whether a burn ban is necessary, and specific rules for each ban — and penalties for violations — vary by county.
Each ban remains in place for no more than 30 days unless officials decide to renew it.
Burn bans typically prohibit outdoor fires, including controlled burns and campfires, according to The Oklahoman. Before approving a ban, county officials must declare the existence of extreme fire danger.
According to Oklahoma Forestry Services, the standards for declaring extreme fire danger include the following:
• The county has moderate, severe or extreme drought, as determined by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
• The National Weather Service is not predicting more than half an inch of rain for the next three days.
• The chance of fires is greater than normal for the season and/or initial attempts to put out a significant number of wildfires were unsuccessful due to extreme fire behavior.
• More than 20 percent of the county’s wildfires started with escaped debris burning or controlled burns.
County commissioners must also show that a majority of the county’s municipal and rural fire departments agree they are in a period of extreme fire danger.