Burn ban enacted

Fitzhugh firefighters prepare to extinguish a large bale of hay which was ignited by a grass fire near the community in January. On Monday, Pontotoc County commissioners Monday approved a resolution enacting a burn ban for the entire county.

Pontotoc County commissioners Monday approved a resolution enacting a burn ban for the entire county.

The resolution states that it is “unlawful for any person to set fire to any forest, grass, range, crop, or other wild lands, or to build a campfire, bonfire, or to burn trash or other material that may cause a forest, grass, range, crop, or other wildland fire.”

Igniting fireworks is also prohibited.

Violating the burn ban can result in a misdemeanor charge and a fine of $500 and/or a one-year jail term.

“This resolution shall be effective immediately for a period of 14 days from the date of passage by the Board of County Commissioners,” commissioners said in the resolution. “If extreme fire danger conditions persist, subsequent resolutions may be passed. This burn ban may be removed at any time during the seven day period by the same method by which it was approved.”

The resolution states that exemptions include welding operations, when “conducted in the following manner: Welding must be conducted in an area free from combustible material for a distance of no less than 20 feet, or burn blankets must be used. Additionally, spotters must be used when welding, and on site firefighting capability in the form of pressurized water must be available.”

Other exemptions include outdoor grilling, with gas grills only, which is permitted when conducted over a non-combustible surface. The Pontotoc Technology Center Fire Training Site is permitted to conduct burn operations during the course of training.

Other area counties under self-proposed burn bans are Coal, Seminole, Johnston, Hughes and Pottawatomie.

Garvin and Murray counties are currently under a burn ban enacted by Gov. Mary Fallin, which includes virtually all states in the western half of Oklahoma.

The area and most of the state are currently in a drought. Although some rain is predicted for the area later in the week, Pontotoc County Emergency Management Director Chad Letellier said it will more than likely not be enough precipitation to end the drought conditions, which could stay present through March.

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