At noon today (Friday, June 24), Oklahoma Forestry Services (OFS), a division of the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, alerted the public to the potential for large fires especially west of I-35.
“The conditions predicted for this weekend have the potential for extreme wildfire behavior,” said George Geissler, Oklahoma State Forester. “We are urging people be aware of the situation and be cautious to not create any spark which could cause a wildfire.”
Conditions are very dry and without significant humidity recovery fires can start earlier in the day and grow quickly. Caution should be taken with any outdoor activity that could spark a wildfire. Under these conditions sparks can ignite easily and fires will spread quickly. All outdoor burning is discouraged.
Weather forecasts for the next few days call for temperatures over 100 degrees, 20-30 mph sustained winds, and low humidity. Vegetation is very dry with much of the western half of the state experiencing extreme to exceptional drought conditions.
A large fire in Medicine Park near Lawton has consumed several thousand acres, destroyed over a dozen structures and has not yet been contained.
OFS is coordinating state and federal wildland fire resources for response if necessary, as well as communicating with Oklahoma Emergency Management and fire departments across the state about the predicted high fire danger. OFS Wildland Task Forces and firefighting personnel are also prepared for mobilization.
There are currently 14 counties under a burn ban across the state and a complete list is available at www.forestry.ok.gov.