With no measurable precipitation in the past three months and none in the forecast for the near future, Canadian County officials have declared a burn ban.
The burn ban went into effect Monday at noon and will continue for at least two weeks.
Canadian County is the 19th county in Oklahoma to declare a ban on outdoor burning.
Emergency Management Director Troy Mead said Monday the county currently is in a severe drought, but is expected to be raised to an extreme drought level on Thursday by the state wildlife department.
The drought level is based on the amount of moisture in the soil.
Mead pointed out that all of the county’s fire chiefs recommended the burn ban.
Under the burn ban, all outdoor burning is prohibited. However, outdoor grill is allowed for gas grills and charcoal grills that have a hood covering the cooking area.
In addition, cutting and welding operations can continue, but must be preapproved.
Fines for violating the burn ban are up to $500 and up to one year in jail.
According to Mead, the county’s first chance for rain in the next 14 days isn’t until Feb. 8, when there is a 10 percent chance of rain.
Winds on Wednesday are expected to gust to 22 mph with low humidity, making the fire danger even greater.
Blaine County also was to consider a burn ban this week, while Kingfisher County was to consider one next week.
“This is the worst drought in three years,” Mead said.