Wildfires Continue To Ravage Western Parts Of Oklahoma
Extremely dangerous conditions continue to fuel historic wildfires in the western half of Oklahoma.
The National Weather Service issued an evacuation order for an area near the towns of Seiling and Oakwood, in Dewey County. At least four tanker aircraft have been deployed to conduct water drops on the fires.
An air evacuation was called to the wildfire eight miles west of Laverne reportedly due to a burned firefighter, the Laverne Fire Chief tells News 9. No other details have been released at this time. Two Butler firefighters managed to escape after their fire truck was overrun by flames.
News 9 is told a Custer City firefighter also suffered some non-life-threatening injuries while fighting the fires.
Authorities tell News 9 efforts are being made to save homes, however, according to scanner reports, some homes have already been engulfed by the blaze. The fires remain 0 percent contained.
The Red Cross is establishing an evacuation center at the First United Methodist Church in Moreland, Oklahoma, located at 302 S. Elm Street.
The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management released the most recent situation update regarding the fires.
WILDFIRES IMPACTING STATE
Due to high fire danger and wildfires that continue to impact Western Oklahoma, the State Emergency Operations Center remains activated. The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) is in contact with emergency managers in the affected areas and is coordinating with Oklahoma National Guard, Oklahoma Forestry Services, Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Oklahoma State Department of Health, Oklahoma Department of Transportation, Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security, Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, National Weather Service, American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and Oklahoma Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD).
The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Fire Warning for much of western Oklahoma through midnight. Temperatures in the 90s will combine with very strong south winds gusting to 50 miles per hour and extremely low relative humidity values of 5% to create explosive wildfire growth potential. A cold front will move slowly south across the state late tonight into Wednesday morning. Temperatures will cool, although strong north winds gusting to 40 miles per hour are expected.
STATE OF EMERGENCY
A State of Emergency remains in effect for 52 Oklahoma counties due to ongoing wildfires and critical fire weather conditions that began Thursday. Under the Executive Order, state agencies can make emergency purchases and acquisitions needed to expedite the delivery of resources to local jurisdictions. The declaration also marks a first step toward seeking federal assistance should it be necessary.
The counties included in the governor’s declaration are: Alfalfa, Beaver, Beckham, Blaine, Caddo, Canadian, Carter, Cimarron, Cleveland, Comanche, Cotton, Creek, Custer, Dewey, Ellis, Garfield, Garvin, Grady, Grant, Greer, Harmon, Harper, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnston, Kay, Kingfisher, Kiowa, Lincoln, Logan, Love, Major, Marshall, McClain, Murray, Noble, Oklahoma, Okfuskee, Okmulgee, Osage, Pawnee, Payne, Pontotoc, Pottawatomie, Roger Mills, Seminole, Stephens, Texas, Tillman, Washita, Woods and Woodward.
BURN BANS IN EFFECT
A Governor’s Burn Ban remains in effect for 36 counties: Alfalfa, Beaver, Beckham, Blaine, Caddo, Canadian, Cimarron, Comanche, Cotton, Custer, Dewey, Ellis, Garfield, Grady, Grant, Greer, Harmon, Harper, Jackson, Jefferson, Kay, Kingfisher, Kiowa, Logan, Major, Noble, Oklahoma, Osage, Pawnee, Roger Mills, Stephens, Texas, Tillman, Washita, Woods, Woodward.
Additional county burn bans are in place for Alfalfa, Canadian, Grant, and Major counties.
Outdoor burning and other activities that could spark a fire are strongly discouraged. Do not throw cigarettes out car windows. Report any suspicious smoke or fires to your local law enforcement or fire authority.
WILDFIRE DAMAGE SURVEY
Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management is working with Dewey and Woodward County emergency management departments to provide a survey for residents to submit damage information caused by the Rhea Fire and 34 Complex Fire. Residents impacted by the Rhea Fire and 34 Complex Fire can report damages to their property by calling 211 or using the following link http://arcg.is/uK0Te. Reporting damage helps local and state emergency managers better coordinate response and recovery efforts.
SHELTERS AND MASS CARE
Two independent shelters are now open for residents displaced by the Rhea fire:
First Baptist Church, 301 N. Noble Ave., Watonga
Elm Grove Community Church, 53502 S. County Rd 226, Chester
American Red Cross and Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief continue to provide meals to firefighters and residents impacted by the Rhea and 34 Complex fires.
American Red Cross is also providing food and beverages to responders at a fire west of Laverne in Beaver County.
INJURIES AND FATALITIES
Oklahoma Office of the Chief Medical Examiner reports a 61-year-old man died Thursday in Roger MIlls County as a result of injuries sustained in the fire that began southeast of Leedey.
Dewey County Sheriff reports a woman died in her vehicle at a residence near Seiling as a result of the Rhea Fire.
According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, nine injuries have been reported by area hospitals:
Smoke inhalation – 3
Heat-related injuries - 6
Rhea Fire – Evacuations were ordered today for residents in and around Oakwood and areas near Seiling. Oklahoma Forestry Services is providing three heavy air tankers to assist with the fire. Oklahoma City Emergency Management is deploying a four-member Emergency Operations Center Team to provide support. This fire is estimated at 248,589 acres.
34 Complex Fire – This fire remains estimated at 67,776 acres.
Beaver County Emergency Management reports a fire north of US 412 west of Laverne. Forestry is providing support with aerial fire suppression.
Oklahoma County Emergency Management reports a fire at SE 29th Street and Harrah Road. Five fire departments are responding.
Additional fires have been reported in Pushmataha and Texas counties.
More than 300,000 acres have burned so far. Payne County Agricultural Educator Nathan Anderson said OSU is working with many other Coops around the state, and with Emergency Management to get hay, feed, and other much needed assets to that part of the state.
This is a developing story.
Keep checking with News 9 and News9.com for more information.