MEEKER, Okla. – A fast-moving wildfire burned about 100 acres Saturday, and two volunteer firefighters were injured after they were thrown from the back of fire trucks trying to escape the flames.
The blaze was among more than 20 wildfires that burned across Oklahoma on Saturday, fueled by drought-like conditions and gusty winds. Texas firefighters battled wildfires across eight counties.
The two volunteers, from Jacktown in central Oklahoma, were taken to a hospital with minor cuts. One Meeker Fire Department truck was trapped in the fire, which scorched the vehicle's door and melting plastic from a side-view mirror.
"I could feel the heat of the fire coming up through the bottom of my pant leg," said Meeker firefighter Matt Willis, who was on the back of a truck spraying water on the fire.
In Texas, a welder was blamed for a large fire burning southwest of the Comanche Peak nuclear power plant in Hood County, but the plant was not threatened, said Traci Weaver, spokeswoman for the Texas Forest Service.
One of the largest fires was a blaze near Sayre in western Oklahoma that had destroyed 1,000 acres by Saturday afternoon. Two separate 300-acre fires were reported near Tulsa, Bays said.
"Under these fire conditions and the winds blowing like this, I wouldn't say any fire is contained," said Mark Bays, spokesman at the state command center.
High winds and unseasonably warm temperatures created prime grassfire conditions, said Ken Gallant, a National Weather Service meteorologist.
"The light rains that we're expecting on Monday will be helpful, but it won't be enough to stop the fires," he said. "We're going to need a significant amount of rain to do that."
Grass fires started by as little as a spark from a car or downed power lines have burned more than 600,000 acres across a drought-stricken stretch of Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico in the past two weeks. The fires have destroyed at least 470 homes and killed five people.