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Oklahoma Firefighters Brace For Busy Wildfire Season


“All of this as you can see is dry as a bone,” said Mark Goeller, fire management chief at Oklahoma Forestry Services, referencing an area where the Freedom Fire burned in Creek County. The fire burned 385 homes in 2012 and the devastated areas are ...


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Oklahoma firefighters are preparing for what could be a very dangerous wildfire season.The Oklahoma Forestry Service said they aren't sending any firefighters or resources to California or other states because of the dry season we're experiencing here.Some parts of Oklahoma haven’t seen measurable rainfall in weeks.“All of this as you can see is dry as a bone,” said Mark Goeller, fire management chief at Oklahoma Forestry Services, referencing an area where the Freedom Fire burned in Creek County.The fire burned 385 homes in 2012 and the devastated areas are still seeing the impact.“This leaf litter is not very deep but the areas where it is will burn all the way to mineral soil,” Goeller said.The Freedom Fire is just one of several large fires Oklahoma has seen in recent years, and fire officials say the outlook for this wildfire season is grim.“We have a lot of fuel every year but the difference this year is almost everything that is out there that is wild land fuel is available to burn,” Goeller said.Goeller said Eastern Oklahoma is even drier than Western Oklahoma for a change.“The fact that our forested area of the state is extremely dry could mean we have the potential for some catastrophic fires,” said Goeller.But there's only so many resources to go around.“A year like this year is going to stretch our ability to meet the demand,” Goeller said. The Oklahoma Forestry Service said they aren't sending any firefighters or resources to California or other states because of the dry season we've been experiencing here, but they are getting nervous that we may not have enough resources to go around."Those fires are possible here,” Goeller said“They can and will happen and we'll do everything that we can to prepare for that.”Goeller said because many resources are out assisting with fires in California, that leaves many other states in a pinch if a large fire were to break out.“When we have problems or potential problems in our own state, we restrict the movement to other states.”To prepare, People can remove "fuel starters" like leaves and logs away from their homes to help create a defensible space.“There’s no guarantee that a firefighter will be at your home during every wildfire event,” said Goeller“Most homes burn from wind blown embers as opposed to the flaming front actually coming up and hinging onto the structure.”Goeller said it would also be wise to have a spare hose handy if a wildfire were to break out near your home.“Sometimes firefighting personnel will use a garden hose that's near a home to fill their truck up or to put out spot fires on the home,” Goeller said“Don't have hose that's got water in it because the last thing we want right now during the winter is a hose that could be full of ice and we couldn't use it.”Because anything that you can do to prepare now, will make a big difference later.“Don't wait until you smell smoke in the airStart now," Goeller said.Several counties already have burn bans in place, but if your county doesn't- pay attention to the forecast if you plan to burn outdoors. 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