Firefighters and emergency responders are working to contain blazes in northwest and central Oklahoma as extremely low humidity, 40 mile-per-hour wind gusts, and very warm temperatures converge to create the perfect conditions for the spread of wildfires.
Updated 4/7/2016, 9:06 a.m.
Gov. Mary Fallin declared a state of emergency Wednesday for 10 more Oklahoma counties affected by the ongoing wildfires in the northwest corner of the state.
Alfalfa, Blaine, Creek, Dewey, Garfield, Grant, Harper, Logan, Major, and Woodward counties were all added to the amended executive order she issued in late March for Woods County as part of the Anderson Creek fire that burned more than 400,000 acres in Oklahoma and southern Kansas.
State agencies are allowed to make emergency purchases to help with the disaster response in those counties, and makes it easier for farmers and ranchers in the area to seek federal aid.
The fire has burned about 55,000 acres and destroyed several structures, although authorities have been slow to complete detailed damage assessments because only about 20 percent of the blaze is contained.
Updated 4/6/2016, 11:19 a.m.
Oklahoma Forestry Services says more than 55,000 acres have burned in Woodward and Harper Counties due to a fire that started yesterday. The blaze that started six miles north of Woodward has been blamed on arcing power lines. Four fires have now merged into what's being called the 350 Complex fire. Multiple aircraft and 115 firefighters and emergency personnel have responded to the blaze.
50 mile-per-hour wind gusts caused the power lines to arc into the dry grass, sparking the fire. Forestry spokeswoman Hannah Anderson says the blaze has not been contained at all, but that no new evacuation orders have been issued.
Shifting winds have pushed a large wildfire in northwest Oklahoma away from an iodine-manufacturing plant and the small town of Freedom, but authorities say the blaze is still burning out of control.
Woodward County Emergency Management Director Matt Lehenbauer says the wildfire did not jump the Cimarron River overnight, which would have threatened Freedom, whose 300 residents were encouraged to leave Tuesday afternoon.
But Lehenbauer says Wednesday's windy forecast will make it difficult for firefighters to control the blaze, which has burned about 40 square miles of rural land. Crews plan to survey the fire by air Wednesday morning to assess its size.
Lehenbauer says the blaze had threatened an iodine plant but firefighters were able to protect the facility by parking their firetrucks around its perimeter. He says the flames jumped over the vehicles and burned all the way around the plant before the winds shifted, diminishing the threat.
Wednesday morning a video went viral showing KWTV stormchasers Val and Amy Castor rescuing a man from a road grader Tuesday afternoon.
Anderson says a separate fire burning in Logan County in central Oklahoma is 80 percent contained. That blaze burned just under 1 square mile of land near the city of Luther.
Most of the state is under a Red Flag Warning again Wednesday due to continued strong wind gusts, and relative humidity readings in the single digits in some locations.
Northwest Oklahoma and southern Kansas have already seen hundreds of square miles burned by last week's Anderson Creek fire, and shortly after 1:00 p.m. Tuesday a fire broke out north of Woodward, threatening areas of Woods County and forcing residents of Freedom to evacuate.
Authorities are evacuating roughly 100 square miles in the area as the fire has burned roughly 20 miles of rural land. The Woodward County Emergency Management office says the wildfire is burning out of control about 7 miles southwest of Freedom and moving quickly northeast.
Freedom residents should evacuate north on State Highway 50 and then head east on State Highway 64 toward Alva.
— Red Cross Oklahoma (@RedCrossOK) April 5, 2016
In Logan County, a large wildfire is threatening the rural community of Meridian.
415pm: Logan Co. wildfire: People between Luther Rd & Harrah Rd & between Hwy 105 & Forest Hill Rd should evacuate to Meridian Fire Station.
— NWS Norman (@NWSNorman) April 5, 2016
In Canadian County, crews are battling a grassfire near Southwest 104th Street and Cemetery Road. National Weather Service meteorologists also say there's a hot spot developing at the Cleveland and Pottawatomie county line 1-2 miles southeast of Etowah.
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