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Phone: (405) 744-4065
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E-mail: sunup@okstate.edu

 

 

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Transcript for January 27, 2018

Transcript to come.

This show includes the following segments:

  • Wildfire in Oklahoma prepares
  • Mesonet Weather
  • Wildfire in Oklahoma responds
  • Cow-Calf Corner
  • Wildfire in Oklahoma recovers

 

(upbeat music)

 

Wildfire in Oklahoma prepares

>>> Hello everyone, and welcome to Sunup.

I'm Lyndall Stout.

This burnt ground is a very real reminder

of the risk of wildfire in Oklahoma.

Especially on days like today,

when it's very windy and very dry.

That's why Sunup is devoting an entire show

to covering the risk of wildfire.

We're looking at preparation, response, and recovery.

We begin with the preparation part,

here's Sunup's Kurtis Hair.

(fire crackling)

>>> Fire risk is extremely high this year.

We're very dry, we haven't had wetting rains

in some areas of the state in over 100 days.

The only thing that's saving us right now

is the fact that it's really cold.

And that we've had the cold weather

that kinda limits anybody from

being outside doing anything.

A wildfire is an unplanned event.

It's a fire that is, you know,

we have the difference here in Oklahoma,

prescribed fire, controlled burns,

planned ignitions, if you will.

And a wildfire is a fire that's out of control,

something that we didn't anticipate,

it's not something we wanted, and

it's kind of escaped any control and is problematic.

With Oklahoma's weather, and how variable it is,

we see the extremes, we see fires that are

on the side of a road that may be stomped out

by one person, or we could go to some of the

larger wildfires we've had over the last few years,

that take multiple resources, multiple operational

periods to control, so, the first step to

preparedness is don't wait until the event is ongoing,

or when they smell smoke in the air.

Now's the time to start preparing for

the possibility of a wildfire impact to your home,

and we need to look at things like

having your grass mown short, at least 30 feet,

50 feet is even better, you know,

the farther you can get that grass mown short

around your home, the more likely it is

to survive a wildfire event.

Not only that, but it also gives the firefighters

what we call defensible space, somewhere that they

can work to protect your home if they come.

From a landowner's standpoint,

what we really need to focus on is

taking actions well ahead of that event.

>>> [Kurtis] Drew Daily is a fire staff forester

with the forestry service, and works with

local jurisdictions in the event of a wildfire.

He says just doing regular upkeep on your property

can make a huge difference.

>>> Brush and low-hanging limbs are removed,

the firewood not stacked up next to a house.

If you have decks, or window wells that

leaves and other debris has not blown up in there,

because very often, it's not the

direct contact with the flaming front,

that results in a structural loss or

something of that nature, it's firebrands,

or embers that are lofted into the column

that settle out into those areas,

and then they'll initiate a home ignition, if you will.

Our fire occurrence in Oklahoma is primarily human caused.

We do have the accidental fires from

power lines going down, and things like that,

but we have a lot of activities that are

outdoor activities that we get the accidental ignitions.

And that's a large part of, and you know, it's just,

it's not intentional, in a lot of cases.

It's a lot of innocent ignitions that cause problems,

and we also have the high wind events

that cause the power lines to arc,

and we get ignitions from that as well,

but right now 2018 is not looking good,

just because we are so dry, and we have

an abundance of growth of fuel,

which we have practically every year.

>>> [Kurtis] While upkeep on your property

is essential, producers need to have a plan

for their animals as well.

>>> I think in regards to animals, preparing for

the disaster before it comes is the

best thing that you can do.

And there's a lot a resources that you can find,

through different organizations that will give you

some ideals of what you need to be ready for,

things that you need to have on hand.

Having in your truck the ability to

cut a fence in an emergency, or those types of things,

is also important, and it's part of the preparation, again.

>>> [Kurtis] There are also preparational steps

landowners can take to help those

who are helping save their properties.

>>> [Instructor] One thing that gets overlooked

very often is ingress and egress, in other words,

how can a fire truck, you know, which sometimes can be

very large, can they make it into your driveway?

And basically we're looking at something that's,

we want 12 foot wide by 13 or 14 feet high

so that we can make ingress and egress out of your access

to your home and to your other buildings.

And then also in the agricultural community,

make sure that you have very visible gates,

and that way we can try to avoid cutting fences,

whether we need to make access or we're trying

to let cattle out so that they can be shuffled out

of the way of a fast-moving fire.

>>> Emergency crews will do their best

to help out in the event of a wildfire.

But the big, extreme fires,

sometimes help isn't always available.

Fire College's John Weir says it's essential

that you follow these preparational steps

to protect yourself and your home.

>>> That's the other thing that we have to think about

because a lot of times we think about,

oh the fire department will come protect my home.

Well you get in those big situations, there are a lot

of times there is not enough people and resources

to go around and protect every home and to do that.

So your home needs to stand alone.

It needs to be able to defend itself.

>>> The only way that we can really be prepared is to

run through scenarios in your head.

Look at lessons learned.

Look at other fires that have happened in the state.

What did the homeowners there go through

and what did it look like?

We try to have our landowners and homeowners

to think about what they will do in an emergency.

When the emergency occurs, then it becomes second nature.

(upbeat music)

 

Mesonet Weather

>>> When dry dead fuels combine with dry windy weather,

wildfires are always a risk in Oklahoma.

The dryer the conditions and the higher the winds,

the higher the risk that any fire

that gets going will turn into a raging inferno.

With our grass fires in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas,

grass growth in the previous year provides

the needed dry fuel source in late winter and spring.

Last year we had excellent growing conditions

for grass in the spring and again in the fall,

mild temperatures and plenty of rain.

All that grass died with our winter freezes

and with no rain since October, that grass is dry

and ready to catch fire from any spark.

As of January 23, many sites in Western Oklahoma had gone

110 days or more without at least a quarter inch of rain.

Our dry conditions have delivered extremely low

relative humidities for January.

A chart from Woodward shows the average humidity

in 2018 had already fell to 40% on January 23rd.

In 2017, this level of low humidities

first occurred in late February, just before

the Northwest Complex Fire started on March 6th.

In 2016, the average humidity hit 40% on February 23rd,

and then went below 40% on April 4th.

The Anderson Fire started the next day on April 5th.

Looking at the last two years and the extremely

low humidities this year, we need to do all we can

to prevent any sparks that could set off a fire.

The 100-hour dead fuel moistures that represent dead shrub

and small tree branches were below 13% over most of the

state and the 1000-hour dead fuel moistures were below 10%.

These represent the moisture in thicker,

dead tree branches in wooded areas.

So we have the fuel, dry conditions, if we get strong

winds, they will drive any flames that get started.

On days when wind gusts climb above 30 miles per hour,

any fire that starts will be moving fast.

County commissioners activate county

burn bans to prevent wildfires.

As of January 24th, 17 counties had

active burn bans across the state.

The Mesonet, OK fire website will let you dive deep

into the critical role weather plays in wildfires.

It's at OKFire.Mesonet.org.

Thanks for watching this edition

of the Mesonet weather report.

(upbeat music)

 

Wildfire in Oklahoma responds

>>> All the plans are in place

and the wildfire is starting to spread.

Now it's time for emergency teams and local

and community responders to activate those plans.

SUNUP videographer Ed Barron

shows us what it's like at go time.

>>> My specific duties revolve quite a bit

around just operational fire, and supporting

the local jurisdiction fire departments

across the state. And in doing that,

sort of serve as the link between

state asset resources, and federal resources,

and that come in to support local resources

when fires become problematic or

tend towards that significance level.

You know, I can bring in other forces

to bring to bear to assist them.

Whether that be task forces for more

Oklahoma foresting services, or requesting assistance

from our cooperators with the Oklahoma National Guard.

>>> It's very difficult this time of year

when you talk about logistics.

Because helicopters can't fly after dark,

so, you have a very narrow window there.

So that's why we try to put them up on stand by,

for high fire risk danger days,

and we want to make sure we can get them out there

as quickly as possible to dump as much water as possible.

So, we're gonna try to think ahead the best we can,

but, at the same time those fires are pretty unpredictable.

And the truth is, emergency management,

if you wanted to sum it up in two words,

it's coordination and support.

That's what we do, so we get the appropriate

subject matter expert, like forestry.

With the resource people, like the National Guard,

or anybody else that might be of hand.

And we get them together on weekly fire calls

to say, "This is what we expect,

this is what the conditions are,

it looks like Thursday and Friday are bad days,

we might get a break on Saturday and Sunday."

But, we have to do it for the entire state.

>>> Landowners that are taking action,

very often, they can be of assistance.

There is a trade off though,

is that person a trained fire fighter?

And, what I mean by that,

are they well versed in fire behavior

and what is expected to occur?

And, you know, in the agricultural

community, with their, you know,

in touch with the land and that kind of stuff,

that's fairly prevalent. But then again,

fire fighting is best left to the trained, and

professional fire fighters that we have across the state.

Whether they are volunteer, career, or within an agency.

(truck engine)

>>> One thing that the land owner can do,

is clean up around, you know, their place, and stuff.

And keep stuff mowed for long ways around.

I mean, as far as their household.

Because, I mean let's face it,

you know, there's 20 people living, you know,

north of here, well, we've only got six fire trucks.

So, can't be at every place at the same time.

>>> So we try to pre position our resources

close to those areas, or,

right in the middle of those areas

so that when a fire does occur

and we get called for help, we're right there.

On those days, when we do have the

resources pre positioned like that,

our response time can be less than an hour.

Now if it's a day like today and

we don't have resources pre positioned across

Oklahoma, it may be six hours.

Depending on where it goes, 'cause

the resources may be coming from Broken Bow,

going to Northwest Oklahoma.

So, we have to drive our equipment that far.

(truck engine)

>>> If a fire is occurring and it's

eminently threatening a place where you live,

or a property that you own, if there is

an evacuation that has been placed into effect,

we encourage you to, strongly encourage you to,

heed that evacuation warning.

Other things that could be of aid

is just quickly advising us, best routes of access.

Some fires occur in places that have some

difficult access, or that access may not be clearly visible.

It could be a creek crossing that you have in place.

It could be through a series of gates,

just making sure that you clearly

and effectively communicate the best access.

And then also, if there's any known hazards,

that you can relay to us, because

we need to be well aware of all of those

kinds of situations, and all of that

just contributes to a more effective fire fight

for all of us on the fire ground.

>>> If you have a garden hose that's

coiled up near a frost free hydrant,

or by any type of water source that, you know,

the hydrant on the side of your house.

That allows fire fighting personnel to

take that, possibly top off their engine,

to be able to fill their tank.

You know, don't have locked gates.

If, you know, obviously we don't want to leave

property unprotected, but, if there is

a fire approaching, you know, give

that access to the fire departments.

Have your home clearly marked.

With an address out front, you know,

the 9-1-1 addresses or someway to ensure that

fire fighting personnel, when they're driving by

will be able to see that there

is a home back down a lane, or what not.

Also, make sure that if you do have,

if your home is farther back away from the road

and your driveway is kind of obscured,

to open that up just a little bit

to allow access for a larger piece of apparatus

to get back into the home if need be.

>>> We've got a lot of people that want to look at,

"Well, that's my land." And we understand that.

But in the same sense, you need to,

maybe we can save your grass if you would stay back.

And we respect all our farmers

and ranchers out here 110 percent

because that's their livelihood.

And we're here to protect it.

>>> Our first and foremost focus is always

going to be life safety.

And part of that is accountability.

And we have to ensure that we have accountability

for all of the resources and all of the personnel

and the citizens that are within a fire area.

And until we have that we can never fully

and effectively engage in the firefight.

And any of those occurrences is to take resources away

from managing a wildfire incident.

(upbeat country music)

 

Cow-Calf Corner

>>> We're at that time of the year where wildfires

of course, are a potential danger that ranchers face

here in Oklahoma and across the Southwest.

And then tornado season or spring storm season

will be just around the corner.

Either one of these situations, as we know

all too well here in Oklahoma, can cause

some real serious damage to especially fences.

And that in turn then allows cattle to get scattered

or lost after these particular disastrous situations.

There's not a lot we can do, of course, to stop

these disasters of nature, but in terms

of preparing ahead of time, I think there are

some ideas that we might want to keep in mind.

First of all, of course, is to have the cattle

individually identified if at all possible.

Identification, including such things as

an ear tag, will be very helpful.

Especially if it's one that will have your ranch

name, or perhaps even your telephone number, printed on it.

There are honest people in the cattle business

that might find those cattle several days

after the event, and give you a call and let you

come and retrieve those cattle.

Certainly, the best way of having identification

of cattle, if they get lost or potentially even stolen,

is the time-honored method of branding.

Still, that is the best legal situation in terms

of being able to prove that animal belongs to you.

If you don't have a brand registered at this time,

I would suggest that you consider doing that,

and visit with the folks at the Oklahoma

Cattleman's Association and have your brand registered.

You can learn about how to do that by

going to the Sunup website.

We've got a link there to the

Oklahoma Cattleman's Association, and go

and take a look at what's involved with getting

a brand, where to put it, and how to do it

by visiting with the folks at the O.C.A.

Also, I would consider having a really up-to-date

inventory of where the cattle are, which pastures

they're in, if they are individually identified

we can keep those records on something

like a simple spreadsheet, and we want to keep

those up-to-date because as we go into calving

season we will have increased numbers

with the calves being born, perhaps we'll be

moving cattle from one pasture to some other pastures

that are up closer to the headquarters

where we can keep an eye on them.

We have to keep those inventories up-to-date

so that if a bad situation does occur, we have

a better idea of where the cattle were,

which ones were in given pastures,

and where they might have gone if in fact

our fences do become compromised.

Just couple of ideas that I think would help us

if we just plan a little bit ahead of time

in case one of these unthinkable

situations happens to hit our operation.

We hope this will help you as we

go through this Spring season.

I hope you don't need any of this information,

but we all know that it can happen here in the Southwest.

Hey, we look forward to visiting with you

again next week at Sunup's Cow-Calf Corner.

(upbeat country music)

 

(energetic music)

Wildfire in Oklahoma recovers

>>> Finally, today, the wildfire is out.

But for some, the work, and the emotional toll

is just beginning.

Sunup's Dave Deken has this part of the story.

>>> But you sit back, and you reflect on what

you just went through, and what could've happened

and what didn't happen, and it's pretty chilling.

It's pretty sobering, you become a little bit

emotional, whenever an event's over,

their first reaction is, okay we've gotta go back

and fix everything.

>>> Just make sure that you let your needs be known

to any relief agencies that come through,

you might be fine on water for your cattle,

but you might need feed or something like that.

>>> Well, the Oklahoma standard is the people.

The people will come running and help you

in a time of need, we've seen it time and again.

We've seen it done without any kind of...

Any kind of need for reimbursement or anything else,

it's just the right thing to do.

>>> No, in Oklahoma, we're fiercely independent

and sometimes we don't like to ask for help,

but, your fellow Oklahomans, that's what

they're trying to do, is help.

>>> And it was just, there was people showed up

and rolled up fence for people.

And, I mean, it was, there was a lotta help

that came from everywhere, really.

>>> It was humbling and overwhelming at the same time.

>>> It was amazing how many loads of hay

came in to this part of the country.

>>> We were kinda contact to see, ask if we would be

willing to coordinate contributions.

>>> [Dana] Harper County OSU extension, this is Dana...

>>> Because a lotta people had a lotta cattle,

livestock that needed to be fed,

and they had absolutely nothing to feed 'em.

And so we thought, sure, you know, 30, 40 calls.

It became a huge national thing,

and with the help of the OSU IT team,

we got stuff out there where they could

sign up on the, online and everything,

and we coordinated trucks and hay.

>>> [Dave] Not every wildfire will have the donation response

they did following the huge event

of 2017 in northwest Oklahoma.

When it comes to livestock, Oklahoma state's

extension veterinarian Doctor Barry Whitworth

says keep a close eye on the surviving animals.

>>> What you have to monitor in some of these

that do not look as severe, is you have to

watch out for infections, and usually

that's typical if the infection goes

what we would consider blood or septicemic,

those animals may end up having to be euthanized

because they're not going to eat,

they're not going to drink, gonna be spending

a lotta time laying around because they're depressed,

they're in pain, and those types of things.

So, those are typically what we're gonna

have to watch out for those that

initially appear like they're gonna be okay,

but in a few days they begin to succumb

to the infections that are caused.

>>> For the obvious reasons, we wanna make sure

that those animals are in good condition,

but the other thing you need to think about

from a legal perspective is that under Oklahoma law,

the owner of the livestock has primary responsibility

for making sure those livestock are contained.

>>> There was nothing there to keep anything in,

so, you don't really think about that

until it happens, but, you know,

there's no way to keep 'em where you want 'em.

>>> Documentation is key, even things like

nuts and bolts, wrenches, things like that.

You know, if you have a tool shed burned up,

they're gonna require an accurate accounting of all of it.

You can't just say, well I had

15,000 in hand tools in the room.

They're actually gonna wanna,

you to demonstrate, that's what I had there.

>>> Making sure you have a good before picture,

well, now let's make sure we have a good

after picture as well.

Really carefully document all of the losses,

take good pictures, and try to get that response

or claim in as soon as possible

so the adjuster can come out and see things

as they really were after the fire.

>>> Now that all the immediate needs

have been met, family is safe,

livestock is located, and you have all the

photos of the damage that you need,

now is the time to start thinking about rebuilding.

>>> There are state and federal agencies,

you're gonna wanna be in the FSA office,

and you're gonna wanna be talking to your

insurance agent, who's got your farm policy,

what's covered, and then might be time

to get checkup on that, to make sure

you've got the right items listed,

that if you've regrown your cattle herd

from the drought from a few years ago,

you got more cows, you wanna make sure

that's on your policy.

If you've changed your equipment, et cetera.

You're gonna make sure that's there.

So those are the places where you're gonna wanna hit.

FSA, your county extension office, and the insurance agent.

There's a lot of production losses out there

that are considered normal losses

associated with agricultural production

that will not be covered by your insurance policy.

Typically, standing forage, you probably

can't get coverage on that.

But once it's bailed, it's up in the yard,

and you put it behind a locked gate,

usually you can get coverage against fire,

against theft, but again, it's something

that you need to keep updated and that's

typically covered under your farm policy insurance.

You'll need financial records that do include,

or records of loss, you'll need to indicate

for example, miles of fence that are lost,

where it's lost, your head of cattle that are lost.

If your cows are still being depreciated,

fencing still being depreciated.

There are rules for deducting catastrophic losses

and not having to continue to depreciate those out.

Other cattle, like feeder cattle, and their ages

and weights, so, there's lots of documentation,

that's why you start with a camera,

from those images, you can write out your losses.

There may be government programs you qualified for

as well, as long as your limits,

as long as your losses exceed some limit.

The private assistance, the charitable donations,

they also may vary with the size of your loss,

so you're gonna need to document all of that.

 

>>> As we close today, we wanna say a special

thanks to our many statewide partners

who help make today's show possible.

The Oklahoma Forestry Department, which is

part of the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food,

and Forestry; the State Office of Emergency Management;

and, of course, the many local volunteers who respond

during wildfires and serve their

neighbors and their communities.

It is, after all, the Oklahoma standard.

There are many more wildfire resources available

on our website, at sunup.okstate.edu.

I'm Lyndall Stout, have a great week,

and we'll see you next time at Sunup.

(country music)

 

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