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Agricultural News

Rhea Fire Complex Remains at 25 Percent Contained According to Latest Status Update from OFS

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 15:22:56 CDT

Rhea Fire Complex Remains at 25 Percent Contained According to Latest Status Update from OFS Below is the latest report from the Oklahoma Forestry Services on the status of the Rhea Fire Complex, released Friday afternoon, April 20, 2018.

Current Fire Situation: The fire is currently 289,078 acres and 25 percent contained. Thursday’s reconnaissance flight provided precise perimeter data to incident mapping specialists, allowing them to calculate the acreage more accurately. The increase of 5,983 acres is due to the growth that occurred Wednesday. Fire behavior and growth was minimal Thursday. Favorable weather conditions allowed firefighters to work directly on the fireline, extinguishing hotspots, flareups, and pockets of smoldering vegetation quickly and thoroughly. When mopping up, firefighters are going into the “black” (i.e., burned area) 50 feet or more from the fireline. Night-shift crews responded to scattered flareups in cedar thickets, particularly along Pee-Wee Road south of Seiling. They successfully held the work the day-shift crews accomplished, keeping the fire within existing containment lines.

Yesterday’s infrared flight detected approximately 2,000 hotspots in the fire’s footprint. Although many of those areas of heat are well within the perimeter and do not threaten containment, some are close to firelines. Having those locations greatly reduces the time-consuming searches for the sometimes hard-to-detect hotspots, allowing firefighters to be more efficient and effective by going directly to each hotspot.

Today’s southeast gusty winds will test containment lines north of Leedey and east of Vici. The uncontained fireline east of State Highway 34 between Camargo and Vici is a staffing priority today as wind-driven flareups in the canyon’s thick vegetation could start spot fires on the west of Highway 34. The northeast side of the fire, southeast of Seiling, is another priority area due to a high concentration of hotspots threatening public and private property and tribal cultural and historical resources. The fire’s southeast finger that follows the Canadian River drainage west of US Highway 270 is also a a staffing priority because yesterday crews detected flareups about seven miles north of Thomas in the river corridor’s thick vegetation. Initial attack resources are available and ready to respond to new starts should they occur.

There are 213 personnel with the Southern States Type 1 Incident Management Team working alongside numerous local and state resources, including the Oklahoma National Guard.

Weather and Fire Behavior: Moderate temperatures (low-60s) and higher relative humidity (near 40 percent) for a second consecutive day could reduce fire behavior. However, winds will increase today to around 15 mph and gusts of more than 20 mph starting this afternoon. Although the fire area experienced stronger winds earlier this week, today’s winds will be strong enough to counteract the positive effect of lower temperatures and high humidity. At this morning’s operational briefing, Operations Section Chief John Raulerson urged firefighters to be particularly vigilant today as the fire is likely be more active than yesterday.

Rain is likely to move over the fire area this evening, with up to three-quarters of an inch predicted on Saturday. Although precipitation will assist fire-suppression efforts, it will not put the fire out. Local resident and BIA representative Steve Smith told crews at the briefing, “Three-quarters of an inch of rain? Give it 24 hours and it never happened.” The effect of less than an inch of rain on fire behavior will be minimal and short-lived.

Evacuations and Road Closures:

No evacuation orders or road closures are in effect. Because evacuation and closure orders can be issued quickly based on rapidly changing fire behavior, residents should contact their county sheriff’s department with evacuation and closure inquiries.

-         Blaine County: 580-623-5111

-         Custer County: 580-323-1616

-         Dewey County: 580-328-5580

-         Woodward County: 580-256-3264

Burn Ban:

The governor’s office has issued a burn ban (https://tinyurl.com/y8ugoqfc) for thirty-six counties in western and central Oklahoma, including the four that are affected by the Rhea Fire.

Temporary Flight Restriction:

A temporary flight restriction (http://tfr.faa.gov/save_pages/detail_8_2277.html) is in effect over the fire area. Requests to fly can likely be accommodated. Call 863-610-0096 to talk to the incident air operations director prior to flying.

Citizen Damage Survey—Oklahoma Emergency Management (OEM):

Residents who have experienced property damage as a result of the Rhea Fire can submit that information to OEM through an online survey (https://tinyurl.com/y93cqsd8). The survey is not an application for or guarantee of assistance, but information obtained from the survey will be used by OEM, in coordination with volunteer agencies, to increase the effectiveness of response and recovery efforts.

Source - Oklahoma Forestry Services



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