Independence Day is just around the corner — and so is the possibility for severe drought conditions.
The Oklahoma Climatological Survey Keetch-Byram Drought Index, which indicates the possibility of wildfires based on drought and soil moisture conditions, shows parts of Carter and Love Counties may be at increased risk for fire danger. The scale gives a measurement from 0, or no drought, to 800, or severe drought. As of Saturday afternoon, the region ranges from 299-559.
“We’ve had a few small fires,” said AshLeigh Gillham, Love County Emergency Management director.
Gillham said while there haven’t been any major fires recently, with severe heat and little precipitation, the possibility for increased fire danger is certainly present. With that possibility comes the need for extra caution as area residents gear up for 4th of July celebrations, including fireworks.
“People need to make sure to pop [fireworks] on a level surface, away from people and vehicles,” Gillham said. She said people also need to pay attention to flammable vegetation.
Ardmore’s Fire Marshall, Tim Lee, said dry grass and things like stockade fences are especially susceptible to stray embers from fireworks. He also cautioned those setting off fireworks to make sure their face and body are well away from the business end of the fireworks.  
“If property or livestock is damaged or lost due to fire caused by fireworks, [the person who set them off] is liable for those damages,” Lee said. “There are generally a few of these incidents every year, usually in vacant pastures with high grass,” Lee said.
“We haven’t had any major injuries in the last couple years [from fireworks],” said Carter County Sheriff Chris Bryant. “People just need to be aware of their surroundings and set off their fireworks in a proper area so they don’t catch things on fire.”
Bryant said most municipalities, including Ardmore, have ordinances which prohibit setting off fireworks in town limits, however it is legal to do so in county areas.
Legality aside, there are generally a few who let some fly inside city limits — or inside a neighbor’s mailbox, as happened in Ardmore in mid-June. No injuries were reported by Ardmore Police, however the ramifications could go further than a little property damage. Some residents, such as veterans or others with PTSD, and pets, could experience severe distress due to the loud, unexpected sounds.
Jeannine Jackson, Executive director of the Ardmore Animal Shelter said Independence Day is the heaviest day of the year for missing pets.
“Dog’s ears are extremely sensitive, especially to things like fireworks with the loud noise,” Jackson said. “They need to be kept away from fireworks. If you have a dog outside and you hear fireworks going off, it’s best to bring them inside, in the house or the garage. They tend to run off because they just get scared.”
If your dog does go missing, Jackson said the best thing to do is to come out to the shelter and look for your pet.