Stillwater News Press

July 9, 2012

NEW: Payne County commissioners ban outdoor burning

By Mark Rountree
mrountree@stwnewspress.com

STILLWATER, Okla. — Payne County commissioners voted Monday morning to issue a 30-day burn ban, effective immediately.

The commissioners approved the measure after hearing a report from Payne County Emergency Management Director Charley Lawson, who said recent hot, dry conditions have turned the county into a tinderbox.

“From what I have been able to gather from the long-range forecast, I really don’t see that the conditions are going to do anything but get worse over the next 30 days,” said Lawson.

Payne County will join a growing number of counties in the state under a burn ban.

Lawson said a burn ban is a sensible response to the hot, dry conditions.

“I would just as soon err on the side of safety,” he said. “Common sense tells us it’s dry and getting drier. ... A burn ban would get no argument from the fire chiefs.”

The burn ban is the first in Payne County since last summer, when commissioners issued several bans during a record-setting drought.

Prior to passing the outdoor burn ban resolution, commissioners declared the existence of extreme fire danger in the county. Extreme fire danger is defined by four conditions: moderate, severe or extreme drought conditions exist within the county; no more than one-half inch of precipitation is forecast in the next three days; fire occurrence is significantly greater than normal, and more than 20 percent of wildfires in the county have been caused by escaped debris burning or controlled burning activities.

The commissioners have the option to cancel the ban before the 30-day term if conditions improve, or extend the ban if conditions persist.