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OK wildfires burns dozens of homes

Firefighters work to contain fires that consumed 52,000 acres

OKLAHOMA CITY (UPI) | August 5, 2012

About a dozen wildfires have burned 52,000 acres in Oklahoma, leaving dozens of families without homes, officials said.

Residents in some areas -- Luther and Slaughterville -- were allowed to return to their homes Saturday to survey the damage while others, like those in Creek County, were still being evacuated, The Oklahoman reported Sunday.

Several highways and roads were closed Saturday and as many as 40 homes were destroyed throughout the state, said Keli Cain, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management.

Oklahoma County Emergency Management Director David Barnes said the fires were about 80 percent contained Saturday.

"It's not an open, forward-progressing fire by any means; a perimeter has been established. But there are several areas that have deep-setting fire because of brush and we're having to cut access through that using bulldozers," he said.

"It's a combination of hot temperatures, low humidity and what has really been the deciding factor the last two days has been the wind," Cain said, describing the cause of the fires and difficulty fighting them.

Weather forecasters said temperatures should reach 99 degrees Sunday, the newspaper reported.

Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel said investigators are searching for the driver a black 2008 Ford F-150 pickup truck who they believe is responsible for starting at least one of the fires. He said witnesses reported seeing a person throwing a burning newspaper out of a black truck with red lettering.

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