Wildfire Burns Almost 56K Acres In NW Oklahoma; Still Out Of Control
WOODWARD COUNTY, Oklahoma - Firefighter from across Oklahoma and several other states continue to battle a massive wildfire that has burned nearly 56,000 acres in the northwest part of the state.
Drew Daily with Oklahoma Forestry Services confirmed with News 9 that the fire, now named "350 Complex Fire," has burned 55,308 acres. It is starting to flare up again on the southeast side, near the Mooreland area. Four aircraft, two single-engine air tankers and two super scoopers are being used to assist in the fire.
According to the Woodward County Emergency Management, the fire started at about 1 p.m. Tuesday about five to six miles north of Woodward, prompting evacuations of area businesses and homes. Officials said it started in four different spots and was caused by an electrical line.
As the fire advanced northward, officials with Woods County Emergency Management also asked residents in Freedom, Oklahoma, to evacuate.
Shifting winds overnight pushed a large wildfire in northwest Oklahoma away from an iodine-manufacturing plant and Freedom. Woodward County Emergency Management Director Matt Lehenbauer told the Associated Press that the wildfire did not jump the Cimarron River overnight, which would have threatened Freedom.
Woods County Sheriff's office posted on its official Facebook page early Wednesday morning that it is safe for Freedom residents to return to their homes. The Sheriff's office said they do not have any reports of structures damaged or lost in Woods County at this time.
Lehenbauer told the Associated Press that the blaze had threatened an iodine plant but firefighters were able to protect the facility by parking their firetrucks around its perimeter. He said the flames jumped over the vehicles and burned all the way around the plant before the winds shifted, diminishing the threat.
Approximately 100 fire units and around 200 firefighters have responded to this fire. Two firefighters suffered minor injuries. It is unclear at this time how many structures were affected.
News 9 Storm Trackers Val and Amy Castor jumped into action and rescued a man from the fire with only seconds to spare.
The man has been identified as Jason Perks, who works for Woods County. We learned that the fire missed the road grader and the machinery is now back in operation.
Wednesday morning, firefighters who have been working since 1 p.m. Tuesday will be getting some relief, as crews from across Oklahoma, Texas, and Kansas arrive to help. Firefighting aircraft will also be out shortly after sunrise to continue their efforts.
A Red Flag Warning is in effect Wednesday afternoon, as winds will be gusting over 40 mph once again. Officials said firefighting efforts will be challenging.
Emergency officials said all highways are open, but ask residents to avoid the fire area north of Woodward as firefighting efforts will be underway all day.
News 9 and News9.com will keep you updated as more information becomes available to us throughout the day.