Commissioners issue burn ban for Washington County

A burn ban is now in effect for Washington County.

Washington County commissioners issued the ban Monday after Washington County Emergency Management Director Kary Cox urged commissioners to at least issue a "very strong advisory" against any outdoor burning activities due to the current hot, dry conditions.

He said though the county does not meet the requirements as set forth by a state statute to issue a burn ban, a ban needed to be issued "as a preventative and educational measure."

Currently, the only condition of the four requirements not met is that more than 20 percent of the wildfires in the county have been caused by escaped debris burning or controlled burning activities, he told commissioners

Cox told 2NEWS the roughly half-dozen grass fires the county fire department fought last week were accidental, caused by electrical issues or farm equipment — such as in one case where an overheated bearing on a hay baler set 30 to 50 acres ablaze south of Bartlesville.

The burn ban includes all outdoor burning including charcoal grills. The only exceptions are the use of gas-fired grills and welding equipment, which must be used on a non-flammable hard surface at least 10 feet in diameter,

Commissioner Linda Herndon's motion to issue a burn ban passed two to one after being seconded by Commissioner Mike Dunlap.

"I don't see anything wrong with issuing a burn ban, even just for the protection of our firefighters," said Herndon before making her motion.

She also called attention to that all the counties surrounding Washington County have been under burn bans in recent weeks.

"We are an island and I don't want this county to be known for that."

Commissioner Gary voted against the ban when the measure was brought to a vote, his reason being that the statutory conditions had not yet been met, he said.

The city of Bartlesville issued a burn ban last week .

Both bans will remain in effect until Aug. 30 unless notified otherwise.

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