Burn ban continues in Okmulgee County

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Reported by: Farron Salley
Updated: 1/27 9:40 pm Published: 1/27 9:39 pm

Dry conditions and strong winds prompted Okmulgee county to issue a burn ban Monday.

FOX23 first told you about the week-long ban in Oklahoma on FOX23 News at noon.

Across the county of Okmulgee we found out many of the fire departments operate with volunteers.

Those volunteer firemen wanted to bring in the burn ban, but we also found out law enforcement wanted it too because they are having a tough time cracking down on the violators.

“Whether it be in the open prairie or in the woods, that much wind will move a fire rapidly,” said Emergency Management Director Timothy Craighton.

Craighton knows how fast a fire can spread.

“When you start a fire it creates its own wind because of the heat that it has. Multiply that with wind like we had last night, 50 mph, and the fire will get it across ground,” Craighton said.

He said people don't often realize, that if a fire starts on their property, they're also responsible for wherever it spreads.

“If I would set a fire and it would go to your house, I’m liable for your house," Craighton said.

Sometimes the finger of blame is pointed in several places.

We went down to the Okmulgee County Sheriff's Office to see how they enforce the ban.

FOX23 spoke with Deputy Fred McGuire who said,“It's a case by case basis normally.”

McGuire said their job gets tough trying to determine who started a fire, and whether or not it was intentional.

“Everything is difficult to prove sometimes, but normally we look at all the facts in front of us and sometimes we have to call in a fire marshal, a state fire marshal to come in and help us with cause and origin for certain fires," McGuire said.

And those fires especially hurt volunteer departments who already have limited resources.

Along with a $500 fine, violators of the burn ban could also face up to a year in prison. 

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