Okla. wildfire turns deadly

1,000 evacuate as wildfire rages

May 5, 2014



"It’s not that big…. but the potential is there"

—Stan May


Firefighters worked through the night and into early today to battle a large wildfire that destroyed at least six homes and left one person dead after a controlled burn spread out of control in central Oklahoma.

Fire department crews were assessing the fire and damage by helicopter at daybreak today.

The fire started as a controlled burn Sunday afternoon near Guthrie. As it blazed out of control, it spread through grass in a region known as the Cross Timber, a strip of prairie and woods that marks the boundary in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas of the Great Plains.

The fire was still burning Monday and threatening about 150 additional homes, Guthrie Fire Department Chief Eric Harlow said. The blaze was about 75 percent contained.

About 1,000 people were forced to evacuate.

Temperatures later Monday were expected to hit 100 degrees, with winds gusting from the south at 33 mph. Tuesday’s winds were expected to be higher still enhancing the risk of the fire spreading further.

“It’s not that big…. but the potential is there,” said Capt. Stan May of the Oklahoma Incident Management Team. He said two Black Hawk UH-60 helicopters from the Army National Guard were being sent in to help put water on the fire, with a third on standby.

The American Red Cross set up a shelter at a church in Guthrie for those affected by the fire.

Smaller wildfires also popped up around the state Sunday, fueled by the hot, dry conditions. The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management said wildfires were reported in the southwest, northwest and north central parts of the state.

The next rain was forecast for Wednesday, when winds were expected to gust up to 39mph, the National Weather Service said.


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