The Burn Ban

adellabedella_usaAugust 31, 2012

Any idea of how much rain we'll need to get the burn ban lifted? I know the relief we've had lately isn't enough, but I'm ready to grill my burgers on the charcoal grill.

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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Well, it depends on your county and your rain deficit as well as your level of Drought and your Keetch-Byram Drought Index. It also depends on whether the Governor lifts the burn ban in sections or regions, or county-by-county, or all at once. Anyone who currently is classified as "Exceptional Drought" or "Extreme Drought" probably will not see the Governor's Burn Ban for their area lifted until they'll progressed far enough out of drought that they drop to a lower drought classification.

Normally, in the county where I live, the county commissioners do not implement a burn ban until our Keetch-Byram Drought Index is over 600, and they generally cancel the county burn ban when the KBDI drops back down below 600. Not every county is the same.

However, we're under a stare-wide burn ban, aka a Governor's Burn Ban, and only the Governor, based on the advice of/recommendations from the Oklahoma Forestry Service, implements or then cancels a Governor's Burn Ban.

Under a Governor's Burn Ban, charcoal grilling is allowed with a couple of safety restrictions. See the second page of the linked Governor's Burn Ban document to see that information.

However, if your county had banned charcoal grilling either before or after the implementation of the Governor's Burn Ban, then I'd check with them before resuming charcoal grilling. My gut feeling is that the Governor's Burn Ban would have superceded any county burn ban restrictions that were in place when she signed the burn ban declaration, but if I lived in a county that had implemented their own charcoal grilling restrictions, then I would abide by them until I was able to determine if the county still considered those charcoal grilling restrictions to be in effect. One thing to think about is this: if you are grilling in a charcoal grill and it somehow starts a fire, you're still legally liable for damage resulting from that fire. I think you also could be cited for starting a fire, even though the burn ban allows charcoal grilling with safety restrictions in place.

The last time we had a state-wide Governor's Burn Ban, it seems like she lifted the ban in regions and, as a region became green enough and wet enough that the ban was no longer needed, it was lifted.

Hope this helps,


Here is a link that might be useful: Governor's Burn Ban Guidelines

    Bookmark   August 31, 2012 at 2:01PM
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Thanks! I am in a county that banned charcoal grilling prior to the governor's ban. That is why I have been avoiding it.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2012 at 3:13PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

I don't blame you for being cautious. I am pretty sure you're still dry enough that it would be somewhat risky, but if it was allowed, I'd probably do it. We have a concrete patio, though and we're pretty sheltered from the wind, and we just had 3" of rain, so you can see why I'd do it. Your conditions likely are still riskier. If your county has a website, their website might say if they still have those grilling restrictions in place.

I have noticed that county bans tend to be more restrictive on some things than the governor's ban will be under similar condition. One reason I think that occurs is that county commissioners often consult with their fire chiefs and their emergency managment personnel. If those personnel feel like charcoal grills are too risky, they'll write in a restriction against them.

I'd just like to be back to "normal" and not have to worry about this stuff at all. Right now, though, normal seems a long ways off.

I have noticed there have been some fairly large grassfires and wildfires this week, and even in our fairly-wet county there's been 1 or 2 fires since we got that 3" of rain a few days ago. That's a reminder to us all that some rainfall (even a few inches of it) doesn't end drought quickly and may not lower the risk enough yet.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2012 at 3:50PM
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We had a fire in the neighborhood a few weeks back. No houses were burned, but it was scary for a while. I'm not willing to risk it over a hamburger. Good news. Dh came home and said he'd take us out to eat. Still no hamburger, but something better I'm sure.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2012 at 6:07PM
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Our burn ban was lifted today (Sebastian Co. Ak.). It was also stated on the evening news that we should burn quick because without more rain the ban may be in place again in 2 or 3 weeks. I have some limbs to burn to in a few days.


    Bookmark   August 31, 2012 at 11:26PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Larry, Lucky you! I've been half-expected that the burn ban will be lifted at least for McCurtain county and maybe a couple of adjacent counties in extreme SE OK because they've had pretty decent rain, though maybe not as much as you've had in recent weeks.

Now, for fun, I'll link the current KBDI map, and we can see from the numbers who is is good shape, and who isn't. It is likely this weekend's high temps will really help evaporate moisture out of the soil so KBDIs that fell recently with the rainfall will begin climbing more quickly again.

On the Texas side of the Red River, several counties lifted their burn bans early in the week and I haven't seen any big smoke plumes in the sky on that side of the river since then, so I think it is working out well so far.


Here is a link that might be useful: Current KBDI Map of OK

    Bookmark   September 1, 2012 at 10:43AM
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