View Full Version : Wind still Fueling Wildfires

01-01-2006, 07:32 PM

High winds, dry temperatures fuel wildfires across Oklahoma

By The Associated Press
A large wildfire erupted in northeast Oklahoma City Sunday night that destroyed homes and forced the evacuation of dozens of residents. Emergency Operations Center (

"We have lost some structures," said Oklahoma City Fire Maj. Brian Stanaland. "It's going to be a long time before we're able to put all those numbers together."

One man suffered minor smoke inhalation after refusing to evacuate his home, Stanaland said. Firefighters on a brush pumper later rescued the man in a field near his home.

Dozens of wildfires that destroyed more than 5,000 acres broke out Sunday across Oklahoma, fueled by unseasonably dry conditions and wind gusts of more than 50 miles per hour.

At least a dozen wildfires continued to burn across Oklahoma Sunday evening, including a large blaze near Guthrie that threatened several homes, said Michelann Ooten a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management.

Fires were still burning Sunday evening in Oklahoma City and near Stigler, Wainwright, Okay, Slick, Shamrock, Welty and Cashion, Ooten said.

"We have reports of a dozen fires that continue to burn across the state, and we know there are more than that," she said.

The fire near Wainwright in Muskogee County charred several thousand acres and was at least one-mile wide, but no injuries or structure fires were reported, said Bill Beebe, an information officer at a statewide command center established in Shawnee.

Army National Guard helicopters that were used to battle blazes over the weekend were grounded Sunday afternoon because of high winds and limited visibility, Ooten said.

Oklahoma City firefighters responded to at least 15 grass fires in the metro area Sunday afternoon that burned more than 100 acres, Stanaland said.

Several homes suffered minor exterior damage in northeast Oklahoma City after some power lines arced and caught some grass on fire. While firefighters battled that blaze, high winds blew up some construction material from a nearby construction site that hit the power lines, caught on fire and landed on a nearby nursing home, Stanaland said.

"You basically had flying, flaming debris," Stanaland said. "Luckily, we were already on the scene putting out the fires when it happened so we were able to put it out. We were very, very lucky."

The grass fire near Guthrie forced the closure of both the north and southbound lanes of Interstate 35 for more than an hour Sunday afternoon, said Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Pete Norwood. Both lanes were closed again Sunday evening because of smoke.

A grass fire also was reported Sunday afternoon near Bristow in northeast Oklahoma and another near Wellston in Lincoln County that threatened about 30 homes.

Meanwhile, firefighters and state emergency officials across the state continued to monitor areas Sunday that were scorched by wildfires over the weekend, while urging Oklahomans to comply with the statewide burn ban.

The major hot spots were in Bennington, Bristow and Pink, where grassfires charred hundreds of acres on Saturday, Ooten said.

"We are reminding the people that they should be extremely careful in any outdoor activity today," she said. "And remember that any firework activity is illegal, and taking a chance means putting Oklahomans, their homes and firefighters at risk."

High winds, record-high temperatures and drought-like conditions across much of the state increased the fire danger to critical levels.

"Weather conditions are gearing up," Ooten said. "We're working with military departments to make sure they have supplies on standby, and we are still receiving firefighters from Alabama and Tennessee."

Oklahoma has been locked in a dry spell, with winds easing at night and in the morning and then increasing in the afternoon. Dozens of fires began in the state Tuesday when winds gusted to more than 40 mph. The state is more than a foot behind its normal rainfall of about 36 inches for this time of year.

Officials declared a state of emergency for Oklahoma Friday because of wildfire conditions, sought a federal disaster declaration and enlisted firefighting help from other states. The wildfires in the last week have ravaged more than 30,000 acres, destroyed nearly 100 homes and businesses, left one man dead and caused a handful of minor injuries.

01-05-2006, 03:42 PM

Jones man faces burn violation charges

By The Associated Press
A Jones man is apparently the first person in the state to be charged with violating the state burn ban.

William Fields is being charged in Oklahoma County with burning trash on the day after Christmas, causing a large grass fire behind his home.

Investigators said Fields admitted starting the fire and said he thought he could control it.

No injuries were reported.

Fields faces up to a year in jail and up to a $500 fine.

01-13-2006, 05:10 PM

Fires flare up again in Oklahoma; two dozen homes destroyed

By The Associated Press

Firefighters cleaned up the remnants of wildfires in southern Oklahoma Friday that scorched up to 20,000 acres and destroyed two dozen homes.

A fire in Carter County near the towns of Ratliff City and Fox burned at least 20 homes, including that of Larry and Tammy Anderson.

Their daughter-in-law, Janette Anderson, said her in-laws escaped through a wall of fire with only the clothes they were wearing and a few personal items.

"I can't get over that it's gone," Anderson said as she looked at the rubble of her in-laws' home. "They had fixed it up so beautifully."

Just up the hill, a home owned by Tammy Anderson's sister sustained smoke damage but was livable.

"At least they have a place to go," Janette Anderson said.

The fire burned in a rural area dotted with oil derricks, oil storage units, ranches and an occasional house.

"It's real rough country," said Chris Chancellor, a volunteer firefighters from nearby Healdton who helped battle the fire. "I don't know how I get in there. I didn't know where I was at."

A major concern for firefighters Friday was high winds that could potentially spread the flames again, said Mark Bays, a spokesman at the state's incident command center in Shawnee.

During the afternoon, reconnaissance planes flew overhead to direct ground crews to hot spots that required attention.

Since Nov. 1, wildfires have charred more than 401,000 acres, destroyed more than 250 homes and businesses and caused two deaths, said Cindy Frenzel, a fire information officer. Statewide, a total of 29 homes and businesses were destroyed in Thursday's fires, Frenzel said.

Frenzel said six small fires were reported on Friday and only two _ a fire east of Ada and another near Earlsboro _ were still burning Thursday afternoon. None of the fires threatened homes or businesses, she said.

"The fire situation is pretty slow this afternoon," Frenzel said. She said temperatures in the 40s and 50s, higher humidity and low winds helped keep the fire danger low.

The fire danger will increase on Saturday and Sunday as warmer, drier weather returns to the state, she said.

As many as 18,406 acres burned statewide on Thursday and at least 11 fires were reported, said Cliff Eppler, an information officer for the state's fire response center. There were no reports of injuries, officials said.

Four heavy air tankers dropped retardant on the Carter County fire until dark Thursday and resumed doing so at first light Friday. The fire, which was four miles wide, had burned an estimated 7,000 to 10,000 acres and was about 50 percent contained by 9 a.m CST, said Richard Reuse, an information officer for the state's fire response center.

Authorities evacuated more than 800 homes in Tatums, Fox, Clemscott and Graham, sending residents who needed shelters to gymnasiums in neighboring towns, officials said. Windy conditions contributed to the spread of the fires, and shifting winds increased the danger.

"When that front went through here it was unbelievable," Reuse said. "Flags just whipped around their directions and the fire went roaring the other way. That's to be expected when a cold front comes through. It's a real dangerous situation." Another major fire in northwest Stephens County, near Central High School, burned an estimated 10,000 acres, Reuse said, and destroyed at least four homes.

01-14-2006, 11:41 AM
I'd imagine some of these fires are being purposely set. Once the news of these fires spread through the media, more and more fires started popping up.