The Oklahoma Forestry Services issued a statement on Tuesday asking the citizens in the western portion of the state to take wildfire precautions. While Ardmore and Carter County are not currently in an area of extreme threat, there are simple precautions everyone can take to help prevent fires.
Jason Woydziak, training officer with the Ardmore Fire Department, explained why springtime and wildfires can sometimes go hand in hand.
“We’re at that time of year where the winds are getting higher, the temperatures are going up, and the humidity starts to drop. When you add those things together, it’s the perfect storm for a fire,” Woydziak said. “Any time the humidity gets below about 25 percent, that grass can just go up in flames.”
The heavy rains last fall led to extra grass growth and Woydziak said the old, dead grass gives more fuel to the fire. However, he said there are several things people can do to help prevent fires.
“If you’re using charcoal grills don’t dump your ashes for a couple of days, and when you do, hose them down really well,” Woydziak said, adding that though it might feel cool to the touch, there could still be embers which could potentially ignite a fire.
“Keep your grass around your house short, and don’t have a pile of leaves sitting around your house. If a little spark gets in there, that can start a fire,” Woydziak said.
Woydziak said that while the Ardmore Fire Department does not deal with an abundance of grass fires, the ones they do handle are typically located along the Interstate or Highway 70. He said that people think these sorts of fires are typically stated by cigarettes. While this can be the case, he said they are often started by chains creating sparks as they drag along the pavement.
“You’ll have a trailer, and the chain’s dragging and sparking off the concrete. That’s why as you are driving down Highway 70, you’ll see a little fire here, then drive a bit and see another little fire,” Woydziak said. “That’s all from that chain sparking.”