By Conrad Dudderar
EL RENO – Canadian County is not under any outdoor burning restrictions – at least not yet.
County commissioners, at their weekly meeting April 24, decided to hold off on implementing a new burn ban.
After recent damaging wildfires in central Oklahoma caused by dry vegetation and high winds, Canadian County’s fire chiefs requested that commissioners consider enacting a ban.
Canadian County Emergency Manager Josh Davis had an item placed on Monday morning’s agenda about having the countywide burn ban from April 24 to May 8 “due to an extreme fire danger that currently exists” in the county.
However, with rains in the forecast every day this week, all three commissioners agreed to wait until their next meeting May 1 to consider action.
“We do have some rain coming up in the next few days, but we’ve had that before in the past and are unsure if it’s going to produce any rain,” Davis told county commissioners Monday morning.
“Ninety-five percent of the county is in extreme drought conditions (as determined by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) right now. … If we get a significant amount of rain, it can possibly lower the degree of fire danger.”
Canadian County Commission Chairman Dave Anderson said he “did not feel empowered” to declare a burn ban this week because current weather conditions did not meet all legal requirements to enact one.
“Statute clearly spells out our powers to declare a ‘condition of extreme fire danger’,” said Anderson, the District 2 commissioner.
By law, commissioners cannot approve a burn ban if more than one-half inch of precipitation is forecasted for the next three days.
“My reservation about declaring burn bans has always been connected to making sure that we meet the criteria,” Chairman Anderson emphasized. “And I don’t think we meet the criteria.
“I know it’s hard for us – and professionals that fight fires – to resist that request. But I feel really strongly that we need to follow the statute.”
With District 3 Commissioner Tracey Rider and District 1 Commissioner Tom Manske agreeing with Anderson’s position, no action was taken. The item was tabled until next Monday’s meeting.
THIS AND THAT …
Among other business items approved by Canadian County commissioners at their April 24th meeting were:
- Awarding a $16,614.93 quote from Ezell’s Refrigeration for a new air conditioning unit on the old portion of the Canadian County Jail. The existing unit is about 30 years old.
- Canceling a project to reconstruct seven miles of 192nd Street NW from Calumet Road to Reformatory Road north of Calumet in District 1. Commissioner Manske asked this be removed from the county’s five-year plan and replaced with a higher-priority project.
- Appointment of Francis Parizek to represent District 1 on the Canadian County Floodplain Board.
- A contracting with MKEC Engineering to design a mill and overlay project for five miles of Banner Road from SH-152 to Reno Avenue west of Mustang in District 2.
- Awarding a $33,500 quote from 6-L Mechanical for three rooftop heat-and-air units at the Canadian County Children’s Justice Center group home.
- Designating Kimberly Killman and Heather Dunavin as requisitioning officers and Tamara Storrs and Whitney Mathes as receiving officers for the Canadian County Health Department.
Canadian County Undersheriff Kevin Ward presented the weekly county jail report showing 216 inmates in custody, with 184 prisoners housed at the El Reno detention center and 32 others in contracted counties.