Firefighters Intentionally Burn Fields To Head Off Rhea Fire
DEWEY COUNTY, Oklahoma - The Oklahoma Forestry Service reports the Rhea Fire is still only 3% contained and has grown more than 34,000 acres on Wednesday alone. Firefighters took advantage of the steady southerly winds to take some preventive action, though.
With three massive smoke plumes billowing across more than 283,000 acres of Dewey County, firefighters and aircraft from around the country are working nonstop. Dry brush and trees continue to explode into flames.
The fire lines advanced south at a rapid pace, threatening both wildlife and livestock. Pigs and deer ran for their lives toward a smoky horizon, hoping they were heading in the right direction.
Firefighters took the opportunity as winds remained steady to intentionally set one woman’s field ablaze, in an effort to reduce the available fuel whenever the winds do decide to shift, which has happened overnight multiple times since the fire sparked last Thursday.
Across the street on North 2380 Road, ranchers used dozers to try to barricade their property to protect hundreds of head of cattle, which seemed to rest peacefully despite the chaos raging in every direction.
Animals that survived could be seen in the aftermath of the blaze just south of Seiling shielding themselves from the ashy wind and trying to graze on scorched earth. On a wind farm further south, a lone bull covered in soot trudged through a burned field.
OG&E crews have now started working to repair damaged power lines near Seiling, a hopeful sign despite continued smoldering all around them.
In spite of the hundreds of men and women who have descended on Dewey County, it will be up to one, Mother Nature, to slow the wind and bring the much-needed rain to the Rhea Fire.