Local, State And U.S. Officials Tour Wildfire Damage - News9.com - Oklahoma City, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports |


Local, State And U.S. Officials Tour Wildfire Damage

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DEWEY COUNTY, Oklahoma -

As Oklahoma's wildfires wind down, the path forward is still hazy.

Monday afternoon, state and U.S. government employees toured the damage that sprawls across Northwest Oklahoma. "It was moving so fast at certain points, nothing could get out of the way," said Congressman Frank Lucas.

Miles and miles of Dewey County are blanketed under fields of ash. Rain from this weekend did not wash away the destruction left behind. Charred forests will overshadow some crumbling homes until relief aid is pumped into the region.

"If you wanted to film WWIII, come to Dewey County right now," said Congressman Lucas.

Ranchers were sent running for their lives.

"They (his family) evacuated there so they went to Camargo, they evacuated there so they went to Leedey. They evacuated there and finally spent the night in Putnam. Then the next day Putnam was under," said Rancher Roger Moore.

Moore lost over 2,500 acres and 40 cattle in the flames, and says that was half of his herd. He says he's never insured any animal he's owned.

"I have been told my whole life there is a little good in everything," Moore told his friend Jimmy Emmons who replied, "Sometimes it's hard to see it."

Ken Salisbury, another rancher, looked upon his mothers burned home. She lost family photos, and other family belongings. Jimmy's life also went up in flames.

"We lost three machine sheds, and all kinds of farm equipment, trucks burned inside the sheds. Didn't lose any cattle on my part, but I had some neighbors that lost 30, 40, 50, or 60 cows," Salisbury says.

Damage totals are still still rising, but rough estimates confirm about 1,100 cattle killed.

"It's still a process of finding them because they stampeded in front of the fire," says Congressman Lucas.

"We have heard different numbers. I think they are still coming up with estimates on cattle. Sounded like maybe 70 homes or so, maybe 300 to 400 thousand acres," said Under Secretary US Department of Agriculture Bill Northey.

But everyone we've seen has been metaphorically tugging on their boot straps and willing to take difficult soot-covered steps forward.

Didn't have much insurance on it, a little bit, but who would have thought it (trucks) would burn up in your barn," Salisbury says.

Those in Dewey County are asking for the Congressman Frank Lucas' help securing one-million in aid, and that's just for fencing and a step back to life on the farm. Lucas said that figure is a starting point.

Those with the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association say there is no doubt the ripple effect will travel to local auctions, and stockyards. They add outside dollars will likely not come to the region until later down the road.

"No one is ever made whole in these kinds of situations. It's a huge disruption," says Northey. "Weather conditions were so against things. It was so dry out here. The wind was blowing the humidity was low. Once they got going, it did just really create a really catastrophe for folks."

Governor Mary Fallin also took a short tour of the damage.

Immediate recovery remains a high priority, but much of that is still unknown.

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