The combination of extremely dry fuels and anticipated weather conditions prompted the need for additional resources to assist Oklahoma Forestry Services (OFS) and firefighters across the state with wildland fire response. For three weeks, that additional assistance has been provided by fire crews from multiple southeastern states. Personnel, engines, and dozers came to assist from Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas.
Fire danger conditions have changed with a recent cold front that brought small amounts of moisture and higher relative humidity to critically dry western Oklahoma. This higher moisture level, along with low winds, has decreased fire danger for the state. As the amount of wildfires has decreased, so has the need for Oklahoma Forestry Services (OFS) to assist local fire departments with firefighting efforts.
“The support from these state forestry agencies allowed us to sustain an appropriate resource level for fire response in support of local fire departments and incident responders,” said Mark Goeller, Fire Management Chief for OFS. “Looking ahead to the fire danger forecast, we feel that we are back to a point where we can handle the need with our own state resources.”
These Southeastern state forestry agency personnel and equipment will begin their travel from Oklahoma today. Most will take two days to drive to their home units, depending on the distance and type of equipment they are driving. The number of aircraft resources has also been reduced in recent days.
It is important to note that fuels in western Oklahoma remain critically dry, and the threat of wildland fire has not been eliminated. OFS will continue to monitor weather conditions and continue to staff appropriately. For additional information about wildfires and the most up to date list of any counties involved in a burn ban, visit http://www.forestry.ok.gov.