By JOHN M. WYLIE II, Editor
After more than a week of wildfires that have stretched firefighters to their limits, Rogers County Commissioners adopted a week-long burn ban with criminal penalties.
The ban took effect Monday morning and will last for a week, until next week’s commission meeting at 9 a.m. Monday, when commissioners will decide whether to extend or end the ban.
Under the ban, it is illegal for anyone to set fire to any forest, grass, range, crop or other wildlands, or to build a campfire or bonfire, or to burn trash or other material that may cause a forest, grass, range, crop or other wildlands fire.
The only exceptions are gas grilling and welding, but only under stringent conditions.
Violations of the burn ban are misdemeanors, which carry a penalty of up to a year in jail and up to a $500 fine for each violation.
The grilling exception allows only use of hooded grills with no exposed flame.
Outdoor welding is allowed only when conducted over a non-combustible surface of at least 10 feet by 10 feet and when welding blankets are used to cover flammable vegetation.
Welding can only be conducted outdoors when the wind speeds are less than 20 miles an hour and when a fire watcher other than the welder is posted at the welding/cutting torch site with a pressurized water fire extinguisher.
The resolution notes that in addition to potential criminal charges, operators who start fires may also be civilly liable for fire damage and the cost of suppressing the fire.
Questions about the burn ban can be directed to the Northwest Rogers County Fire Protection District at 918-443-2471.