Oklahoma Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb on Friday modified the 52-county burn ban that was in effect for most of the state

Oklahoma Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb on Friday modified the 52-county burn ban that was in effect for most of the state.

The modified ban now covers just 16 western Oklahoma counties after rains brought some relief to central Oklahoma. It also will remain in effect past the original deadline of midnight March 2.

The modified governor’s ban covers: Beaver, Beckham, Cimarron, Custer, Dewey, Ellis, Greer, Harmon, Harper, Jackson, Kiowa, Roger Mills, Texas, Washita, Woods and Woodward counties.

With the Governor's action, Pottawatomie County is not included, “therefore, a burn ban no longer exists for Pottawatomie County,” said Don Lynch, Shawnee/Pottawatomie County Emergency Management Director.

However, several county-issued burn bans do remain in effect across the state, including a current ban in Lincoln County.

Overall, the rainy conditions have helped some, but drought is still an issue.

“Drought conditions remain in western Oklahoma and the threat of wildfire remains a concern in those counties, a concern I witnessed firsthand about a year ago when hundreds of thousands of acres were burned and many of our farm families suffered devastating losses,” said Lamb, who is acting governor while Governor Mary Fallin is attending Council of Governors and National Governors Association meetings in Washington, D.C. “The moisture we received in parts of the state has given us a reprieve, but our fire season is definitely not over.”

An ongoing analysis of conditions is conducted by Oklahoma Forestry Services (OFS) to make recommendations to the governor’s office. This includes analysis of fire activity, wildland fuel conditions, and the predicted continued drought. Long-range forecasts are calling for a winter/spring fire season to continue until April.

“Though several counties are not covered by burn bans, conditions are still conducive to sustaining wildland fire,” said George Geissler, Oklahoma state forester. “I ask all Oklahomans to be very cautious with activities that could spark a wildfire such as grilling, campfires, or any other outdoor burning. We aren't out of the woods yet.”

In the counties no longer covered by the governor-proclaimed burn ban, citizens are urged to check with local officials or visit www.forestry.ok.gov/burn-ban-info to see if county burn bans have been enacted before doing any type of burning.

“We are still in our winter fire season, and we could find ourselves right back in high fire danger within a week or so,” said Geissler. “The rain just gave firefighters a break from the extreme fire behavior that necessitated the burn ban.”

Unlawful activities under the ban include campfires, bonfires, and setting fire to any forest, grass, woods, wildlands or marshes, as well as igniting fireworks, or burning trash or other materials outdoors.

LPG and natural gas grills and charcoal-fired cooking outside in a grilling receptacle are permitted, provided the activity is conducted over a non-flammable surface and at least 5 feet from flammable vegetation, but any fire resulting from grilling or use of one of the cookers or stoves is still considered an illegal fire.

 As part of the governor’s burn ban, there are exemptions for many items, such as welding and road construction. For more specific information and details, visit www.forestry.ok.gov/burn-ban-info or call Michelle Finch-Walker with OFS at (580) 236-1021.