Fires reported across state
Friday, March 6th 2009, 6:19 pm
EDMOND, Okla. (AP) -- Several fires broke out across Oklahoma Friday, and weather conditions that contributed to the rapid spread of the flames were expected to improve only slightly during the weekend.
No serious injuries have been reported.
A grass fire threatened more than a dozen homes in a new Edmond housing addition before being brought under control shortly after noon, said Edmond Assistant Fire Chief Tim Wheeler.
The addition does not yet have fire hydrants and trucks from Edmond, Guthrie, Deer Creek and Oak Cliff fire departments were hauling in water to help fight the flames.
A fire also burned in the Weleetka area, about 70 miles south of Tulsa Friday afternoon where the Oklahoma Highway Patrol closed U.S. 75 through the Okfuskee County town.
Traffic was detoured around the city and the OHP said the highway may be closed for up to two days.
The fire began between 8 and 9 a.m. was brought under control after 2 p.m., according to Okfuskee County Emergency Management director Bill Elliott.
"Other than just some exhaustion issues (among firefighters) I don't know of anyone that's been hurt," Elliott said.
The cause of the fire was under investigation after it burned four buildings in one city block, Elliott said.
"The fire marshal's on scene now and starting his investigation."
In Dewey County, where a fire that began Thursday forced evacuations of the towns of Taloga and Putnam, residents have been allowed to return to their homes, although state forestry officials said part of the fire continued to burn Friday near Putnam in the southern part of the county.
Winds of 10 to 20 mph, with gusts above 30 mph, dry arid conditions and temperatures up to 25 degrees above normal, were fanning the flames, said meteorologist Scott Curl of the National Weather Service in Norman.
"Anytime you get those conditions with the dormant vegetation, warm temperatures and low humidity there is a significant danger."
Curl said the conditions would improve slightly during the weekend, with a slight chance for scattered showers moving into the state Saturday.
"I think we'll see a little bit of a chance tomorrow (Saturday) in eastern Oklahoma, and tomorrow night in northern and north-central Oklahoma," Curl said.
"Another storm system approaches Monday night into Tuesday, a little stronger storm system that will move into the state and possibly bring some rain," he said.
"We'll see temperatures drop off a little after that front, it'll be in the mid to upper 40s in the north to the mid and upper 50s along the Red River."
One firefighter was treated and released for smoke inhalation while fighting the fire in Dewey County Thursday night, according to the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management.
At least one mobile home was destroyed by the flames and numerous ranchers reported significant livestock losses, said ODEM spokeswoman Michelann Ooten.
The fire also damaged telephone lines, cell towers and other communications infrastructure.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved Gov. Brad Henry's request for federal assistance related to battling that wildfire, both FEMA and Ooten said.
The authorization makes FEMA funding available to pay 75 percent of state, local and tribal government firefighting costs.