Oklahoma Emergency Leaders Take Action Following Wildfires

Friday, March 11th 2011, 6:37 pm
By: News 9


OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) is working with several agencies across the state to keep residents informed and safe as wildfires burn homes and land across the state.

OEM is at Level Three activation, which means the agency has extended its operating hours for key personnel. It is also working with the Oklahoma National Guard, Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Oklahoma Forestry Division, Oklahoma Health Department, American Red Cross and the Salvation Army.

On Friday, wildfires scorched thousands of acres in Harrah, Goldsby, Choctaw, Norman, Oklahoma City, Midwest City, Shawnee, Kingfisher, Stroud and Beggs. The State Emergency Operations Center has coordinating with the Oklahoma National Guard to provide water drops over several burning areas.

OEM offered these tips to help prevent the start of wildfires:

  • Be careful when pulling off a road or driving into a field. Hot catalytic converters can ignite vegetation.
  • Avoid burning trash. Even a barrel covered with a screen can allow a spark to escape, igniting nearby vegetation.
  • Do not use fireworks during holidays.
  • If you smoke in your car, extinguish cigarettes in vehicle ashtrays. Never toss a cigarette out of a car window, and don't put cigarettes out on the ground.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher and water handy when working outdoors with equipment that gets hot, or involves sparks, such as welding equipment. Water down outdoor work areas in advance if possible.

If a wildfire does start in your area, follow this advice:

  • Place connected garden hoses on all sides of the house for emergency use.
  • Know all emergency exits from your house.
  • Learn all routes leading out of your neighborhood.

As fires actually approach, take the following actions:

  • Park your car facing the direction of escape.
  • Shut off gas at the meter. Only a qualified professional can safely turn the gas back on.
  • Turn off propane tanks.
  • Place combustible patio furniture inside.

If advised to evacuate, do so immediately. Choose a route away from the fire hazard and be alert to changes in the speed and direction of fire and smoke.

For more information about wildfire safety, visit the Oklahoma Firewise and the Oklahoma Forestry Services websites.