For more information:

Keith Merckx, Information Representative | 405.664.4908

January 17, 2024

Oklahoma Forestry Services Reports 2023 Wildfire Numbers

OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma Forestry Services (OFS) closed out 2023 with below-normal wildfire occurrence and acres burned. OFS responded to 536 wildfires burning 47,222 acres.

Compared to the 10-year average of 1,203 fires burning 230,247 acres annually, OFS responded to only 45% of normal fires burning less than 21% of normal acres burned.

“The ongoing drought from 2022 into 2023 resulted in less available wildland fuel on the landscape during the winter and spring months, which is the primary fire season in Oklahoma,” said State Forester and Director of Oklahoma Forestry Services, Mark Goeller. “Abundant rainfall early in the growing season prompted vigorous, early green-up. Additional rainfall through early summer kept live wildland fuel moisture high which kept wildfire occurrence low.”

Additionally, OFS ended the year completing 46 prescribed fires treating 7,946.7 acres. The burning was targeted at achieving multiple objectives with most of the activity focused on both ecological restoration and hazard fuels mitigation.

“A few of the prescribed fires were implemented for site preparation for production forestry practices,” Goeller said. “Wildfire response activity often limits the ability to conduct prescribed fires. However, despite the lack of wildfire the past year proved difficult to conduct prescribed fires given the lack of favorable burning conditions in January through early March. This is the time frame when the bulk of burning is completed to meet land management objectives.”

Leaning into 2024, OFS has several prescribed burns planned or in the process of plan development targeted at treating approximately 12,000 acres.

“Despite the drought conditions that have persisted, Oklahoma generally received adequate rainfall early in the growing season coupled with a few timely summer rains producing normal to above-normal herbaceous fuel loading across the state,” Goeller said. “The big takeaway for now is that, unlike last year, there is ample wildland fuels on the Oklahoma landscape to support potential for large and significant fire activity when combined with fire effective weather.”