Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management
Situation Update 2
April 3, 2011 7:45 p.m.
CONTACT: Michelann Ooten, Public Information Officer
WILDFIRES IMPACTING STATE
Due to the severe fire conditions across the state, the State Emergency Operations Center remains at Level Three activation, which involves extended operating hours for key personnel. The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) is in contact with emergency managers in the affected areas. Additionally, OEM is working with the Oklahoma National Guard, Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Oklahoma Forestry Division, National Weather Service, Oklahoma State Department of Health and Oklahoma Department of Transportation.
STATE OF EMERGENCY
A State of Emergency remains in effect for all 77 Oklahoma counties as declared by Gov. Mary Fallin for wildfires on March 11. Under the executive order, state agencies can make emergency purchases and acquisitions needed to expedite the delivery of resources to local jurisdictions. The declaration also marks a first step toward seeking federal assistance should it be necessary.
Hot temperatures today combined with dry air and gusty winds to create the potential for rapid fire growth. Winds are 15 to 25 mph with gusts up to 40 mph. A cold front will move into northwest Oklahoma later this evening and progress across the state through Monday morning. Initial relief from the front will be offset by strong gusty winds behind the front, which may cause additional problems for firefighters as fires shift to the southeast. Fire weather concerns remain much of the week as dormant vegetation combined with low relative humidities and dry air is expected to create favorable wildfire conditions.
At the State EOC we are now aware of more than 100 fires burning across the state to include those near or in Ada, Guymon, McAlester, Norman, Sand Springs, Sapulpa and Tulsa. Currently, most are NOT threatening homes or other structures.
- Texas County Emergency Management reports a large wildfire has damaged homes west of Guymon near Highway 54. Southwestern sections of Guymon remain under evacuation due to the fire. Oklahoma Highway Patrol reports numerous wrecks on Highway 54 due to the smoke-filled roadway.
- LeFlore County Emergency Management reports a fire south of Highway 112 between Cameron and Rock Island. Fire is now contained.
- Pontotoc County Emergency Management reports fire crews from Byng and Francis worked a fire five miles east of Francis. Fire, which was a rekindle from Saturday, is under control at this time. Crews from Lula and Stonewall worked a fire two miles north and two miles east of Lula. Fire was approximately 100 acres and was located in a wooded area. The fire is nearing containment.
The State EOC is working with the Oklahoma National Guard to provide aerial fire suppression via Blackhawk and Chinook helicopters equipped with buckets and with Oklahoma Forestry to provide ground firefighting equipment. This afternoon, water drops were provided on fires near Lake Keystone.
Oklahoma Highway Patrol assisted with road closures on numerous fires, including the one in Texas County.
State Forestry reports a Bureau of Indian Affairs air tanker assisted on a wildfire in and around Carnegie in Caddo County where two homes on Indian trust land were threatened. At least 250 acres have burned there.
The American Red Cross reports a shelter is open for those displace by the Guymon fire at the Victory Memorial United Methodist Church at Sixth and Roosevelt in Guymon.
Additionally, the Red Cross provided canteens for firefighters on scene at wildfires between Pauls Valley, Maysville and Elmore City.
PRICE GOUGING STATUTE IN EFFECT
Oklahoma’s price gouging statute remains in effect in all of Oklahoma’s 77 counties due to the State of Emergency. The price gouging statute prohibits an increase of more than 10 percent in the price of most goods and services when a State of Emergency has been declared. Anyone who suspects price gouging is urged to contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit at (405) 521-2029.
For Oklahoma residents seeking non-emergency disaster or health and human service information, please contact your local 2-1-1. Services are available 24 hours a day by dialing 2-1-1 from your home or cellular telephone. Please only call 911 for emergencies.
Wildfires are often caused by human activity. High winds and dry conditions can set the stage for potentially severe fires. The greatest single cause is when burning debris is not properly contained and sparks or burning trash blow into the air.
Oklahomans can help prevent fires if they:
- Be careful when pulling off a road or driving into a field. Hot catalytic converters can ignite vegetation.
- Avoid burning trash. Even a barrel covered with a screen can allow a spark to escape, igniting nearby vegetation.
- If you smoke in your car, extinguish cigarettes in vehicle ashtrays. Never toss a cigarette out of a car window, and don’t put cigarettes out on the ground.
- Keep a fire extinguisher and water handy when working outdoors with equipment that gets hot, or involves sparks, such as welding equipment. Water down outdoor work areas in advance if possible.
If advised to evacuate, do so immediately. Choose a route away from the fire hazard and be alert to changes in the speed and direction of fire and smoke.
When weather conditions make wildfires more likely in your area, prepare by taking the following precautions:
- Keep firefighting tools handy, such as: ladder long enough to reach the roof, shovel, rake and buckets.
- Place connected garden hoses on all sides of the house for emergency use.
- Know all emergency exits from your house.
- Learn all routes leading out of your neighborhood.
As fires actually approach, take the following actions:
- Park your car facing the direction of escape.
- Shut off gas at the meter. Only a qualified professional can safely turn the gas back on.
- Turn off propane tanks.
- Place combustible patio furniture inside.
Oklahomans are reminded to report any suspicious wild land fire activity to the Arson Tip Line 1-866-662-7766 (1-866-NO-ARSON).
Next Situation Update: As conditions warrant