Neighbors Help Western OK Firefighters During 'Historic Fire Danger'
WOODWARD, Okla. - The National Weather Service reports Oklahoma is seeing the worst fire conditions in more than ten years, with many areas of the state receiving less than a quarter inch of rain this year.
Help is on the way for firefighters, but you can also play a role. The Oklahoma Forestry Service is asking for your help to prevent additional fires.
They ask that you refrain from throwing cigarettes out of your car, lighting up your grill or burning your brush pile because right now firefighters already have their hands full.
With more than 100,000 acres up in flames since Thursday, there is still a long way to go for fire crews in western Oklahoma.
“These firefighters that have been out there locally have been working overnight and they’ll work again today (Friday) and overnight again, because these fires won’t be out anytime soon,” said Albert Ashwood, director of Oklahoma Emergency Management.
The firefighters are getting some relief, though, from departments around the state as well as our neighbors to the east.
“Those states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas have already responded and are sending additional folks,” said Mark Goeller, Oklahoma Forestry Service’s fire chief.
The bulk of the out-of-state crews will start work on Saturday. Oklahoma's Army National Guard troops are on standby as well if they are needed for new fires.
FEMA has already approved a grant to reimburse the local departments for overtime, gas and equipment used during this wildfire response.
In places like Vici, where multiple structures have been destroyed, aircraft arrived first thing Friday morning to dump water, and more are available and on their way.
Goeller said, “We have lots of water close to those incidents out there, so they’ll be a great asset to us.”
Increasingly volatile conditions could hamper their efforts, though.
“The winds become very high and the relative humidities get very low, the aircraft can’t fly,” explained Goeller.
The Forestry Service urges you not to try to put out a fire once it starts. In these conditions, they will spread very rapidly, so please call 911 right away.