Thursday's lifting of the statewide burn ban in Oklahoma by Gov. Mary Fallin was seen by area fire department officials as a timely action following recent rainfall that helped quench the drought conditions from the past summer that necessitated the burn ban.
Until Thursday morning, all Southwest Oklahoma counties except Caddo and Grady were still included in a state burn ban that took effect Aug. 3 in response to severe drought conditions during the summer months caused by lack of rainfall, a prolonged period of 100-degree-plus temperatures and high winds. That statewide burn ban, issued by the governor on an executive order, included all of Oklahoma's 77 counties.
Caddo, Grady and other counties were previously lifted from the state ban Sept. 27, which followed the lifting of the ban for a few other Oklahoma counties Sept. 17. Southwest Oklahoma counties that remained in the state burn ban until Thursday included Comanche, Cotton, Greer, Harmon, Jackson, Jefferson, Stephens and Tillman.
With the state burn ban lifted Thursday, only one Oklahoma county still prohibited outdoor burning, but on a county-issued burn ban. That ban affects Cimarron County, the far westernmost county in the Oklahoma Panhandle.
Fire department officials across Southwest Oklahoma reported that the lifting of the ban came at the right time, following moderate to heavy rains over the past few weeks that have greatly improved conditions that previously created high risks for large-scale grass and range fires such as dry soils and grasses easily set ablaze by high winds.
Chattanooga Fire Chief Jack Nicholson said that the recent rains were beneficial to farmers in the immediate area of southwestern Comanche County along with adjoining areas of Cotton and Tillman counties.