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Fire ecologist explains what you can do to protect yourself if wildfire is nearby

published: December 14th 2021
source: Oklahoma State University Ag Communications Service

From rangelands to pastures and everything in between, roughly 26 million to 28 million acres of land across Oklahoma is considered flammable.

The Sooner State is not even in its driest months yet, and much of the state's grass has started to dry up.

Most of Oklahoma's largest grass fires are between November and April, but that's not always the case.

"A lot of it's going to depend on the conditions, the weather," said John Weir, a fire ecologist with Oklahoma State University Extension.

Many of Oklahoma's grass fires are wind-driven, and the smallest change in wind direction can make a difference. That's one reason why prescribed burns happen so frequently.

"We're one of the top states in the nation for conducting prescribed burns," Weir said.

Nearly 1 million to 2 million acres are burned a year across the Sooner State to stay proactive against the fire threat.

"It will reduce the fuels that are there and also reduces a lot of the volatile fuels that are problematic for firefighters," Weir said.

The prescribed burns mainly happen in the spring, but there could be people conducting burns now. There's a problem with doing these burns closer to neighborhoods, though.

"As a homeowner, you know, thinking about wildfire season and what can be done whether you are a rural resident or an urban resident in those edge areas," Weir said.

The fire risk still exists on the edges of larger towns.

"Think about cleaning up around the house, removing all flammable materials that are underneath eaves, problematic areas," Weir said. "Think about that. Pruning up some trees, shrubs and things around the house will go a long way."

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