ODAFF issues fire situation report ahead of concerning wildfire conditions 

Photo from the Oklahoma Forestry Service prescribed burn at Lake Thunderbird, Feb. 20. (Courtesy photo.)

 In recent days, fire weather conditions have been reported in varying areas of the High Plains. On Feb. 26, Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry said to date there have been 25 fires which have burned 5,875 acres in the state. Counties where fires have occurred include: Adair, Atoka, Cherokee, Delaware, Latimer, McCurtain, Pittsburg and Sequoyah counties. 

Very dry conditions during the weekend of Feb. 24 and 25 have led to a notable increase in wildfire occurrences across the state and have pushed drying of composite fuel and moisture priming fuels to support rapid rates of fire spread. According to ODAFF, winds will increase ahead of a strong cold front with winds going from west-southwest to north late Feb. 27. Fire control and suppression will be difficult because of these conditions.  

“As such, large fire occurrence (>300 acres) potential is increasing and a significant fire (>5,000 acres) cannot be ruled out, especially if initial attack activity outpaces local resource availability,” their report stated.  

Forestry services will be mobilizing suppression group resources to northwest Oklahoma and the Oklahoma panhandle Feb. 26. A Red Flag Warning is in effect across the area and into southwest Kansas from noon Feb. 26 to 7 p.m. A much broader Fire Weather Watch is in effect for Feb. 27 with transition into a Red Flag Warning likely.  

Record breaking high temperatures, increasing wind and continued dry conditions over the primarily dormant vegetation are supporting potential for the need for heavy initial attack activities if a fire does start. Marginal overnight moisture recovery combined with quickly increasing temps have resulted in the early development of the active burning period. 

For more information or to read the report in its entirety visit https://ag.ok.gov/divisions/forestry-services/

Kylene Scott can be reached at 620-227-1804 or [email protected].