Critical Fire Weather Developing

Oklahoma Forestry Services, a division of the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry, alerted the public this afternoon (Tuesday, March 22) that a critical fire weather situation is developing as a dry line pushes through the state. A “Red Flag Warning” is in effect for all counties west of a line from Kay County to Love County, basically west of State Highway 177.

A Fire Weather Watch is in effect for Osage, Washington, Tulsa, Pawnee, Creek, Okmulgee and Okfuskee counties as a dry line is forecast to push through bringing southwest winds sustained at 20-30 miles-per-hour with stronger gusts and dropping relative humidity.

“We don’t want people to be lulled into complacency with the scattered showers and seemingly higher relative humidity that we are experiencing,” said George Geissler, Oklahoma State Forester.“Gusty winds will dry things out quickly and the potential for an extremely dangerous fire situation exists.”

Aerial support is standing by and OFS personnel are prepared to respond if needed. The fire weather conditions forecast will allow any fire that starts to be very resistant to control and extreme caution should be exercised with any outdoor activity that could spark a wildfire.

Extremely dry conditions have led state officials to issue a series of alerts in recent weeks, including alerts last week.

Extremely dry and windy conditions have raised increasing concerns from state officials, including alerts at the time of the major fires last week.

On March 11, Governor Mary Fallin issued a statewide declaration of emergency, initiating fire protection activities in all 77 counties. Several dozen evacuations were ordered at that time. In connection with this year’s spate of wildfires, widespread property and home damage have become commonplace.

NOTE: Editor Patrick B. McGuigan contributed to this report