Canadian County burn ban – it’s back on

Outdoor burning prohibited again; ‘Red Flag’ fire warning issued

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Andrew Skidmore

By Conrad Dudderar
Staff Writer

EL RENO – A Canadian County burn ban is back on – at least for one week.

Canadian County commissioners, at their weekly meeting Feb. 14, voted 3-0 to approve a resolution declaring a burn ban “due to an extreme fire danger that currently exists in Canadian County.”

This new burn ban will conclude at 9 a.m. Feb. 21 but may be extended.

“Any fire started under these conditions may become uncontrolled, causing major property damage and the possibility of injuries and loss of life,” according to the resolution.

“(I)t is unlawful for any person to purposefully set fire or to ignite material such as fireworks, campfires, bonfires, or fires to burn trash, debris, vegetation, agricultural fields, forest or grass range unless otherwise granted special permission” by Canadian County commissioners or their designee.

With cooler temperatures and more moisture expected later this week, county commissioners could lift the burn ban at their next meeting.

Canadian County’s fire chiefs “are behind” having the outdoor burning prohibition in place, District 3 County Commissioner Jack Stewart explained.

“I can see some need for it,” Stewart said. “We’re going to have real, real warm weather, at least for three days, and high winds – especially Tuesday.

“That’s super-conducive for fire and the spread of fire.”

The National Weather Service issued a Red Flag fire warning at 2:45 p.m. Feb. 14 due to winds gusting up to 40 mph, relative humidity as low as 23% and temperatures in the upper 60s to low 70s: “Any fires that start will be difficult to contain.”

Canadian County had been under a burn ban for six weeks starting Dec. 20, 2021, due to extended dry, windy conditions and lack of precipitation.

Commissioners allowed the ban to expire Jan. 31. Over the next several days, a winter storm dumped an estimated 5 to 7 inches of snow and sleet on Canadian County.

“That converted to just under a half inch of moisture,” Commissioner Stewart said of the recent snowfall.

This temporarily eliminated the need for a burn ban.

The weather forecast shows temperatures will drop significantly with more precipitation possible late Wednesday and into Thursday.

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THERE ARE EXCEPTIONS

There are certain exceptions to the burn ban if appropriate precautionary measures are taken, Canadian County Emergency Management Director Andrew Skidmore noted.

“There is a list inside the resolution of the acceptable burns,” Skidmore said. “Grilling outside, as long as there’s a cover, that’s all fine.”

The specific exceptions are:

  • Outdoor gas grilling and charcoal grilling with a hood covering the cooking area
  • Cutting and welding operations – if approved “prior to the operation” and permitted by local fire authorities having jurisdiction
  • Burning vegetative debris – if the weather forecast and conditions become favorable, a detailed burn plan accompanies the request, the request is made at least 48 hours in advance, and adequate fire suppression is arranged and approved by permit

Anyone violating Canadian County’s burn ban is subject to a maximum $500 fine and/or one year in jail.

While the “standard” burn ban is two weeks, Skidmore advised commissioners they could enact a ban on a “week-by-week basis.”

County commissioners will consider extending or lifting the current ban at their next regular meeting Feb. 21.