Despite recent rainfall activity and the increased chance for precipitation in the coming weeks, Carter County Commissioners opted to reinstate a burn ban for the county for the next 10 days.

Rainfall levels for the county remain more than 10 inches below the normal year-to-date totals and about an inch lower than the current month-to-date totals.

“After examining the information provided to us by the emergency manager and the weather predictions for the near future, it is in the best interest of Carter County to continue the burn ban for another 10 days and then reassess after that,” Carter County District 3 Commissioner Jerry Alvord said. “The recent rainfall was a welcome sight but many areas are only at a 10th of an inch or less, that combined with the dry grass, we would like to stay on the safe side and continue the burn ban.” 

The abnormally dry, warm winter combined with occasionally windy periods has created a heightened risk for wildfire, forcing area fire departments to respond to various fires throughout Carter County during the last two weeks despite the ban being in place. Those fires have included numerous small grass fires and structure fires, including one that claimed the life of a Springer man.

The resolution passed by county commissioners makes it unlawful for any person to set fire to any forest, grass, range crop or other wildlands or to build campfires or bonfires, to ignite fireworks, burn trash or other materials that could spread to other vegetation or surrounding fuel sources.

The resolution clarifies that construction projects that utilize open flames should be done under supervision and with appropriate fire suppression systems in place.

Love County — one of the hardest hit in Southern Oklahoma that has already faced multiple large fires since first enacting its burn ban — extended its ban for 14 days due to persistent drought conditions.

“It’s still really dry,” AshLeigh GIllham, Love County Emergency Management Director, said. “We’ve barely gotten any rain, and it’s going to take a lot more than that with it being as dry as it is.”

Gillham said more than 518 acres burned last week in a wildfire close to Jimtown Road near the Red River in southern Love County and another 14 acres burned in a wildfire near Thackerville.

“We have been hit pretty hard by the fires,” Gillham said. “But we’ve had significantly less since the burn ban was enacted.”

Parts of Marshall County have received between a half an inch to an inch and a half of rain over the last few days, with more precipitation in the forecast, prompting Marshall County Commissioners to let its burn ban expire. Commissioners enacted a one-week ban during last week’s meeting and will continue to observe the conditions on a week-to-week basis.

“It’s one of those things,” Marshall County Commissioner Chris Duroy said. “If you don’t meet the criteria, you can’t do it. That’s why we are doing them on a week-to-week basis.”

Murray County does not currently have a burn ban in place. According to the Oklahoma Forestry Department, Stephens and Jefferson Counties currently have burn bans enacted.