BARTLESVILLE, Okla. - With Osage, Tulsa and Nowata Counties under county-issued burn bans, many are wondering why Washington County — situated in the midst of those counties — is not.
"It's simple," Washington County Emergency Management Director Kary Cox told 2NEWS, explaining that according to state statute , there are four requirements to be met in order to issue a burn ban.
"We only currently meet two of those standards."
According to the law, in order for a county to pass a burn-ban resolution, the board of county commissioners must declare the existence of extreme fire danger. A declaration of such means all four of the following conditions must exist:
- Moderate, severe or extreme drought conditions exist within the county as determined by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
- No more than one-half inch of precipitation is forecast by the National Weather Service for the next three days.
- Fire occurrence is significantly greater than normal for the season and/or initial attack on a significant number of wildland fires has been unsuccessful due to extreme fire behavior.
- More than 20 percent of the wildfires in the county have been caused by escaped debris burning or controlled burning activities.
Cox told 2NEWS Washington County only meets the first two criteria for a declaration of extreme fire danger.
"We have not had hardly any fires and the fires we have had are all fire from fireworks or farm machinery," he explained.
"Of course that could all change tomorrow."
Cox said nonetheless county officials are extremely concerned about the dry conditions and the heat.
"If we are going to have a fire, it's going to be a critical issue."
Though a burn ban has not been issued for the county, emergency management officials are asking Washington County residents to be vigilant and careful when doing outside activities.
"The potential is definitely there (for a fire)," said Cox. "It would take a single spark and we would have a critical situation."