Wednesday, February 17, 2016
OKLAHOMA CITY - Governor Mary Fallin today called on all Oklahomans to take precautions as the state faces weather conditions that bring extreme fire danger.
“We know from past experience that everyone doing their part can have an effect,” said Fallin. “This is a short duration event with potentially dire consequences. But vigilant residents can reduce the potential impacts.”
The National Weather Service is predicting critical fire weather conditions for Thursday, with a Red Flag Warning and Fire Weather Watch for 71 counties. The six counties not covered are Atoka, Bryan, Coal, Johnston, Marshall and McCurtain.
Under Red Flag Warning and Fire Weather Watch conditions, officials urge extreme caution because a simple spark can cause a major wildfire.
State and federal agencies are making preparations to respond to any wildfire that starts.
· The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management has activated the state’s emergency operations center.
· Oklahoma Forestry Services is pre-positioning wildland task forces to be ready to respond to local requests for assistance.
· National Guard helicopters and federal firefighting aircraft have been placed on duty.
· Local fire departments across the state are at a high level of readiness.
Residents are being asked to postpone any activity that could spark a blaze.
“Simple, everyday activities like welding, charcoal grilling or campfires should be postponed until conditions improve,” said Fallin. “Furthermore, residents should call their nearest fire department immediately if they see smoke or fire. Time is of the essence, because under extreme conditions any fire that starts will spread rapidly.”
Thursday’s predicted weather calls for record warm temperatures, a dry atmosphere and very strong winds with gusts up to 50 mph in some areas. Such strong winds could result in typical fire causes like downed powerlines, rekindling of old campfires or charcoal.