PINK, Okla. – Oklahoma called on firefighters from across the South to help battle wildfire outbreaks that have already killed one person, charred 30,000 acres and destroyed about 100 homes across the state.
The state has been locked in a dry spell, and 50 mph winds, low humidity and temperatures in the 70s and 80s were forecast for Sunday.
"That all adds up to very dangerous and extreme wildfire conditions," said Michelann Ooten, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management.
She said firefighting teams from Alabama and Tennessee arrived in the state Saturday, and additional teams were expected from Florida and North Carolina. State officials asked for 14 teams in all, each with two bulldozers, two fire engines and eight firefighters.
Firefighters on Saturday were battling a 125-acre blaze near Pink, where the biggest challenge was access to the fire in an area with few paved roads, and lined with barb-wired fences and creeks, officials said.
An Army National Guard helicopter assisted the firefighters by dropping thousands of gallons of water from nearby Lake Thunderbird.
"I think the crews are getting a good handle on it," Bob Bledsoe, assistant fire chief from nearby Norman, said midday. He said no injuries or structural damage had been reported.
Oklahoma has only had about two-thirds of its normal 36 inches of rainfall for this time of year. On Tuesday, dozens of fires fueled by the dry brush broke out across the state as winds gusted to more than 40 mph. Officials declared a state of emergency Friday and sought a federal disaster declaration that would free up low-interest federal loans to help with the fire damage.
The causes of most of the fires haven't been determined, though some have been blamed on fireworks or arcing power lines.