Wildfires Scorch Areas in Southern, Northern Oklahoma

March 14, 2008

Above-average temperatures, low humidity and high winds fueled wildfires in parts of Oklahoma on Wednesday.

At least four structures in northern Carter County were destroyed but no injuries were reported, authorities said. Another blaze charred dozens of acres near Carney, but firefighters were able to protect 12 homes.

In southern Oklahoma, 30-mph winds helped drive a fire near Ratliff City.

Carter County assistant emergency management director Chester Agan said three homes and a shop building were among the structures that were destroyed in the blaze.

No evacuations were ordered, but Oklahoma Highway 76 was closed in both directions north of Ratliff City for about five hours because of heavy smoke.

Fixed-wing aircraft from a nearby airport dropped water on the blaze, which burned an area about three-quarters of a mile wide and four miles long, Agan said.

Firefighters from more than a dozen agencies helped bring the fire under control by about 10 p.m.

“We must have had, gosh, 18 different fire departments out of our county on this fire,” Agan said. “There were probably about 250 firemen coming in to help.”

Firefighters also dealt with another hotspot near Hennepin in southern Garvin County, he said. Crews extinguished that blaze as well, Agan said.

In Lincoln County, firefighters from nine rural fire departments worked to extinguish a wildfire near Carney, saving a dozen mobile homes.

“We have some homes with warped siding right now, but we didn’t lose any structures,” said Joey Wakefield, Lincoln County’s emergency management director. “I’ll tell you what, you can’t say enough with how quickly those rural fire departments responded. These guys don’t get paid. You have to give them props.”

Fire crews received the emergency call about 1:35 p.m., according to Wakefield. The fire, which was contained after more than two hours began five miles north of Carney and jumped U.S. Highway 177 at one point.

“We probably had between 40 and 60 acres burned,” Wakefield said. “And right in the middle was the mobile home park.”

Help from: The Oklahoman, www.newsok.com and the Daily Ardmoreite, www.ardmoreite.com

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