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Anderson Creek Fire Has Burned Huge Swath Of Northern Oklahoma, Drained Rural Resources

Oklahoma Forestry Services fire crews respond to hotspots in northern Oklahoma during the Anderson Creek wildfire that's burned hundreds of thousands of acres.
Oklahoma Forestry Services
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Oklahoma Forestry Services fire crews respond to hotspots in northern Oklahoma during the Anderson Creek wildfire that's burned hundreds of thousands of acres.

The record-setting wildfire in northern Oklahoma and southern Kansas has grown nearly as big as Oklahoma City – about 620 square miles.

The Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Services division said Monday the fire is 85 percent contained, but it’s already destroyed nearly 400,000 acres in Woods County, according to The Journal Record’s Brian Brus:

Early property damages include 600 head of cattle, miles of fencing and electrical utility lines, 2,000 bales of hay and tons of silage feeding piles. Cost estimates will not be available until the fire is extinguished. Kelly Dexter, spokeswoman for the state Department of Insurance, said a field representative had been to the scene and been in contact with the incident command center since the middle of last week. She said that reports so far suggest the fire has consumed mostly grassland and little insured property. “If that changes, we will likely deploy more staff to the area to assist consumers,” Dexter said.

On Monday, Gov. Mary Fallin declard a state of emergency for Woods County, which allows state agencies to make emergency purchases to help local resources respond faster. It lasts for 30 days, but can be extended if necessary.

Nearly 400 firefighters have been called in, many from volunteer departments. State Forester George Geissler said the fire is a good example of how badly rural districts need state funding

From Brus:

Gov. Mary Fallin has called for budget cuts throughout the state government’s departments and programs to compensate for declining tax revenue. For the 2015-2016 fiscal year, the OFS distributed more than $3.67 million in operational grant funds to 857 rural fire departments across the state, or about $4,300 per department. “It’s not often that we see such a drain all at once on our resources,” Geissler said. “Usually, it’s a series of fires that takes several bites out of our firefighters. It’s not easy to keep coming out when you’re volunteering time from your daily job.”

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