Fires again burn across Oklahoma


Sunday, October 1st 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Oklahoma firefighters prepared for another round of grass fires on Monday after unseasonably warm temperatures, dry vegetation and strong southerly winds set the stage for large grass fires over the weekend.

Temperatures were forecast to reach the 90s on Monday and Tuesday and no rain was forecast until a cold front passes through the region on Wednesday.

On Saturday and Sunday, fires charred more than 6,000 acres across Oklahoma, authorities estimated.

At least five firefighters were hurt while battling the blazes on Saturday. There were no confirmed reports of injuries with Sunday's fires, John Nichols, a fire information officer at the Multi-Agency Coordination Center at the Department of Civil Emergency Management, said.

One blaze in southern Logan County burned dozens of acres, but no property was damaged.

At least 80 firefighters and four helicopters were dispatched to northeast Oklahoma to battle three fires in Osage County that had consumed about 4,400 acres by 7 p.m. Sunday, Nichols said. One fire burned 200 acres near Skiatook; another scorched 1,200 acres at the intersection of U.S. 60 and Oklahoma 18, and the largest, near Fairfax, burned about 3,000 acres, Nichols said.

"It doesn't take much to get a fire going, (especially) with a little wind behind it and those dry conditions," Nichols said.

A dispatcher with the Osage County Sheriff's office said the fires were out by late Sunday.

In south-central Oklahoma, fire burned about 300 acres near Pauls Valley and about 350 acres were lost to fire near Marlow in Stephen County, Nichols said. At least 38 firefighters and a helicopter were used to fight the blaze.

The state remained under a ban on outdoor burning. Although rain fell on a good part of the state last weekend, the moisture has since evaporated, creating conditions similar to several weeks ago, when grass fires burned thousands of acres.

The state Fire Marshal's office may be asked to investigate a blaze that burned about 30 acres in Garfield County on Saturday. An old barn was destroyed but no other property was damaged in the blaze.

Garfield County Undersheriff Jerry Niles said witnesses saw a white, mid-1980s model Ford, either an LTD or Crown Victoria, leaving the area shortly before the fire. The occupants were described as a white male and a white female.

Niles said the landowner told authorities that trespassers often use the old barn on the property for unauthorized parties or gatherings.

Three firefighters were treated for heat exhaustion and another suffered a broken finger while helping fight a fire near Carrier that consumed more than 500 acres, authorities said.

Also on Saturday, a fire scorched 6 square miles of land in Rogers County. One firefighter suffered cuts, but his injuries were not serious. That blaze was brought under control in four hours.

Firefighters also struggled with blazes elsewhere on Saturday. A fire near Cyril burned 440 acres and 100 acres were burned near Saddle Mountain in Kiowa County, Nichols said.