Wildfires Breakout in NW Oklahoma- Evacuations in Place- Forestry Service Advises Extreme CautionFri, 13 Apr 2018 11:40:35 CDT
Wildfires broke out across northwestern Oklahoma yesterday, and continued to burn through the night. Local firefighters have worked nonstop in an attempt to contain the blaze threatening communities near Woodward and Vici with voluntary evacuations in place. Multiple structures have been burned, but no specific numbers or details on whether or not the structures are outbuildings or homes. Reports of four turkey hunters were lost in the area. Three of the four hunters have been located, conditions unknown. Fire Management Chief of the Oklahoma Forestry Services Mark Goeller held a press conference Friday morning at the Oklahoma State Department of Agriculture. He spoke with Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Associate Farm Director Carson Horn to brief him on the situation. Listen to that complete interview by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of the page.
“We have numerous fires that are ongoing, particularly in western Oklahoma in Dewey County and Woodward County, that have been burning actively all night. Fire weather conditions are such that we had no humidity recovery, winds stayed high, so fires continue to burn,” Goeller reported. “We’re talking historic fire danger and behavior today and so we’re taking some actions to be prepared for that.”
That action has led to placing all firefighting resources on high alert, with additional resources being brought in from neighboring states and prepositioned in hot spots to reinforce local departments. The “historic” designation of the current fire weather conditions, Goeller explained, is referencing the fact that conditions of this magnitude regarding the level of dryness and amount of fuel, wind speed and low humidity is the worst that has been observed in more than a decade.
“We’re at the levels of some of our historic fire events that we’ve seen in the past. April 9th of 2009 is one of those,” he said. “But we haven’t seen anything like this in this area in over 10 years.”
Goeller expects an emergency declaration out from the governor’s office at anytime which will impact nearly two thirds of the state or 52 counties, potentially more. Just about everything west of I-75 Goeller expounded. The OFS is currently focused on four main fires but mutliple other attacks have occured in between, totalling approximately 203,000 acres scortched so far. In the meantime, he is strongly urging citizens across the state and especially in these areas of high risk not to do anything that might escalate the situation.
“We’re asking folks to limit any outdoor activity that could cause a spark that would cause a wildfire. Things are going to get really bad,” Goeller said. “So, anything we can do to limit any type of ignition source outdoors… don’t do anything that could start a fire today, please.”
The latest report from OFS states that, “an extremely complex fire environment will be in place today with a cold front forecast to impact the ongoing fires as well as new fire occurrence expected. A more widespread Red Flag Warning will be in place today with a dry line pushing east complicated by a cold front.”
For the full Fire Situation Report, click on the following link below.
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