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February 19, 2014

OUR VIEW: Conditions right for wildfires

STILLWATER, Okla. — The 10-day forecast looks great: Mild temperatures, mostly sunny skies with only a slight chance for precipitation.

And that’s the problem, according to fire safety officials.

Oklahoma continues to struggle with drought conditions and fire officials are concerned higher than normal temperatures, lack of humidity, high wind and lack of moisture content could lead to an outbreak of wildfires in the state.

Stillwater and area firefighters have responded to several grass and structure fires in the last several days.

The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry is predicting a high fire danger for the next seven days.

The department issued a statement Tuesday discouraging any sort of outdoor burning this week due to dry, windy conditions.

Twelve counties are under a burn ban right now. Payne County officials have not called for a burn ban yet, but they are closely monitoring conditions that could lead to one.

Officials from Oklahoma Forestry Services put out a plea Tuesday for residents to remain vigilant as the winter fire season gets under way.

There are any number of online resources to consult to learn more about preventing wildfires, but some of the best tips are the most obvious, such as complying with local regulations, checking the weather conditions, properly managing a controlled burn and refraining from burning anything that is combustible.

And of course, ash trays were installed in vehicles for a reason. Use them, and don’t throw your cigarette butts out the window.

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