Environment, Education, Energy: Policy to People

Don’t (Completely) Blame the Drought for Increasing Number of Outdoor Burn Bans

Current Burn Bans in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma Forestry Services

Current burn bans in Oklahoma.

11 Oklahoma counties have now issued burn bans because of high fire danger, with bans in Edmond and Oklahoma City extending indefinitely — or “until the city gets more moisture and the situation improves,” District Chief Marc Woodard told The Oklahoman:

Woodard said the department has battled more than 50 grass fires in the past week, and hazardous conditions will continue this week.

Most of the fires have been started by people throwing cigarette butts in the grass or burning trash in the high winds, he said.

StateImpact has been reporting on how the current drought is far from over, but Oklahoma Water Resources Board Executive Director J.D. Strong says the drought is only partially to blame for increasing the fire risk.

“Certainly, the dry conditions that are found within the areas of the state experiencing drought can exacerbate fire danger,” Strong says. “But burn bans are based on additional factors and are typically more temporary in nature.”

Case in point: Three of the burn ban counties — Pittsburg, McIntosh, and Latimer — aren’t experiencing any level of drought.

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