Sharpton says burn ban is out of the hands of commissioners
Despite several fires sparking up on Wednesday afternoon in Logan County, including one that charred up 1,000 acres, Logan County is not included in a burn ban.
Kingfisher, Oklahoma and Lincoln counties, that border Logan County, are in a county-wide burn ban. Garfield and Noble, counties that border Logan County to the north, are not part of a burn ban.
As of Thursday afternoon, 40 of the 77 Oklahoma counties are currently under a burn ban. On Monday, July 23 Guthrie Fire Chief Eric Harlow enacted a burn ban for the City of Guthrie until further notice.
Logan County Commissioner Mark Sharpton states it his not in the hands of the county commissioners to proclaim the ban.
“Specifically, the law states that prior to passage of a burn-ban resolution, the Board of County Commissioners must declare the existence of extreme fire danger,” Sharpton said. “This is not an action commissioners can take arbitrarily. When we assumed office, we took an oath to uphold the law, and the law is what governs the implementation of a burn ban.
Sharpton explained that extreme fire danger must meet four conditions that the Oklahoma Forestry Services provide before a ban is put into place:
1. Moderate, severe or extreme drought conditions exist within the county as determined by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
2. No more than one-half inch of precipitation is forecast by the National Weather Service for the next three days
3. 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
4. More than 20% of the wildfires in the county have been caused by escaped debris burning or controlled burning activities
“At this time, according to officials who monitor this information, all of the criteria has not been met,” Sharpton said.
Sharpton went on to say that enacting a burn ban is not a cure-all.
“It will not prevent an accidental spark from agricultural equipment from starting a fire. It will not prevent a careless person from tossing a cigarette out of an automobile. It will not automatically instill wisdom into those who typically have none,” Sharpton said.