Wind-whipped wildfires destroy homes, prompt evacuations

Saul Bowman
April 19, 2018

There is a Fire Weather Watch for the Tulsa area today because of strong northwest winds and a low humidity. Relative humidity in low single digits, high temperatures and sustained winds between 25 to 35 miles per hour were expected, with gusts up to 50 miles per hour.

At the 34 Complex fire near Woodward, spokesman John Nichols said firefighters are doing much the same thing.

Approximately 90 homes have been evacuated from the two counties, including homes in the town of Richfield in Morton County. By Tuesday, it covered almost 100,000 hectares in western Oklahoma, and was only three percent contained, said Shawna Hartman, spokesperson for Oklahoma Forestry Services.

In Oklahoma, two people have died in the fires and nine others have been taken to hospitals for smoke inhalation or heat-related injuries, emergency management officials reported. "It's been very devastating", said Denise McDaniel, who with her fiancee was forced to leave their home in Canton, Oklahoma, Tuesday night because of a large fire that started near Leedey. Notices warning area residents to be ready to abandon their homes at a moment's notice have been lifted and an evacuation center in Grants closed.

Fire weather april 17 2018 dangerous wildfire
Fire weather conditions predicted for Tuesday and Tuesday night

A state of emergency has been issued for 52 counties. National Weather Service meteorologist Mark Buller said the fire risk has shifted south into western Oklahoma. A number of structures were damaged or destroyed and crews are working to assess the damage.

Fires in Colorado licked Denver suburbs on Tuesday, stretching firefighting resources to their limits and taking out homes.

As the rain sets in, we may find temperatures struggling to get into double figures, all of which will come as welcome news to the firefighters battling the blazes.

Another wind-whipped wildfire destroyed five homes and several outbuildings east of Pueblo and forced 200 families from their homes.


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