OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma City Fire Department has been busy this month battling several grassfires because of dry vegetation, warm weather and increasing winds.
The Oklahoma City Fire Department has been battling almost 100 grassfires just this month.
“The dry weather has definitely increased our grassfires since January 1st… Fortunately, the winds have been light. So, we’re able to get to these grassfires out pretty quick and get them under control,” said Capt. Scott Douglas, Assistant Public Information Officer with the Oklahoma City Fire Department.
Oklahoma State Climatologist, Gary McManus said we’ve gone largely without rainfall across most of the state going on for over a month now.
“It’s going on right about a month, 30 or 31 days for much of the state. And now other parts of the state, of course, have gone on much longer for, you know, more than 130 days without rain in the panhandle,” said Gary McManus, state climatologist for Oklahoma.
McManus said although we are in the driest part of the year, it’s unusual to go this long without any significant precipitation.
“We’ve gotten a little bit here and there, but we’re really looking at over the last 30 days or so. Most of the state is 50% of normal or less, and in some cases less than 25% normal,” said McManus.
This weather pattern is causing extreme fire danger for residents across the state.
Scott Douglas with the Oklahoma City Fire Department warns inner city folks too.
“People who are in the inner city think that they’re completely safe. But a lot of people don’t understand that these embers that are created from these grassfires can travel up to over a mile,” said Douglas.
Douglas said it’s important to eliminate any fuel sources around your home, like keeping your grass cut short, checking for leaves in your gutter, storing firewood, or even owning a wooden doghouse.
“You want to take away as many fuel sources as possible. So, what happens if the grassfires gets close to the house, if there’s firewood or a doghouse or your grass is tall, it’s going to heighten these flames and then possibly get into your home and start a house fire that way…We like to tell people to keep an area clear 30 feet around their residence,” said Douglas.
The Oklahoma City Fire Department wants to remind you if you burn, you need a permit for that, but even if you do have a permit you need to check in to make sure it’s safe to burn that day.
“A lot of people think that they can just burn freely. You have to have a burn permit if you’re going to burn. And then there’s approved burn days or not approved burn days. You need to call our fire marshal’s office to see if it’s an approved burn day, even if you have a burn permit,” said Douglas.
Currently, Oklahoma County is not under a burn ban, but the fire department says if this weather continues, you can expect one soon.