Recent Wildfires Burn Thousands Of Oklahoma Acres

Tuesday, September 7th 2010, 4:29 pm
By: News On 6

By Craig Day, The News On 6

MCINTOCH COUNTY -- There has been severe fire danger in many parts of Oklahoma. Rain Tuesday in some areas, and more in the forecast, will give firefighters a much needed break after an exhausting weekend.

Wildfires burned thousands of acres in Oklahoma this weekend. One fire burned 1,800 acres southeast of Checotah in McIntosh County. 

From Ft. Supply to Broken Bow, fires are taxing resources and manpower and have threatened homes. While rain in the forecast will help some, firefighters say it won't help much.

Over the Labor Day weekend, more than 100 firefighters labored with a difficult fire in McIntosh County.

"We've got crews that have been out here for three straight days now that have been operating on very little sleep and rest," said Eric Pelletier, who is a Bureau of Indian Affairs firefighter.

Pelletier says crews were able to keep the flames from damaging more than a dozen homes, but it wasn't easy.

"On a fire like this, you more have to steer it than you do put it out. And that's what we did," said Pelletier.

A steady wind at 35 miles per hour pushed the flames, and a tremendous amount of fuel left over from ice storms over the past few years fed it.

"That dead, down timber in there is dry and it just rips right through it and causes these devastating fires," Pelletier said.

One burned an area two miles long, and a mile and a half wide.

"You see the white ash, that indicates how hot the fire got. The black is hot, white is hotter," said Pelletier.

It's a problem statewide.

Labor Day weekend, crews in Woodward County contained two wildfires that burned about 1,500 acres.

The wind whipped up a fire in Logan County.

A fire also kept firefighters busy in Pottawatomie County. Rain will help some, but Pelletier says it won't make a huge difference.

"That rain we're going to get, it's going to run off this land and it's not going be absorbed and probably by the weekend, we're going to be in some pretty serious conditions again," said Pelletier.

Pelletier predicts because the state is in a drought cycle, and there is still so much ice storm debris, wildfires will be a problem in Oklahoma well into the fall.

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