Fire officials warn the public on how to stay safe in burn bans and wildland fires

Posted at 9:20 PM, Jan 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-31 23:20:01-05

TULSA - It's been a restless couple of days for Green Country fire departments as wild land fires burned through hundreds of acres of land. 

Gallons of water dumped from overhead, and almost a dozen agencies were below as acres burned in Kellyville for hours on Tuesday. 

“We’ve seen fires up here before, but nothing like this," said neighbor Claire Trinidad. 

Many people were taken aback. 

“My fear is they lose their home and all their possessions," said neighbor Phyllis Holcomb. 

People did everything they felt was right to fight back, but not many people knew what they should do. 

“People being aware of the risk helps them manage the risk better," said Skiatook Fire Chief James Annas. 

So we asked, how do people protect themselves, and what can people do before flames ignite in their back yard?

“Everybody has the ability to help prevent wild land fires," he said. 

He's also the coordinator for the Tulsa Area Mutual Aid Association, a new group of fire crews who help each other when things get out of control. 

"Creating a defensible space around your home of low-cut grass and maintaining that, that’s something you want to consider.”

First, he said low grass around your home is the safest. 

The higher the grass, the more likely it is to catch fire. 

Second, pay attention to what you place close to your home. 

Brush piles, junker cars and logs all bring wild land fires close to your house. 

“If I’m going to engage in any activity that can potentially cause a wild land fire than they need to evaluate that based upon what that activity is.”

And of course, with any burn ban, watch what you do. 

“A lot of the fire we had last year started because of welding activities.” 

But, he also admitted both fire departments and citizens can always do a better job when it comes to preventing and communicating. 

“I think that one aspect of the fire service that we could probably really make improvements in is on the public education and the fire prevention.”

Chief Roger Tuttle of Kellyville's Fire Department said the town had no way of publicly notifying citizens of the danger they were in Tuesday. 

He said with such a large fire district, it's almost impossible to reach everyone. 

“Anywhere around here under these conditions, everybody should stay alert," said Creek County District 1 Commissioner Newt Stephens on Tuesday. 

So when most of Oklahoma is in the red, it's best that everyone know what to do before it's too late.

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