• Wildfires impact western Oklahoma, prompt evacuations

    Updated:

    Story Highlights

    • Several dangerous wildfires are impacting those who live in western Oklahoma this week.
    • FOX23 is keeping in touch with officials about the efforts to slow the fires and keep people safe.
    • There are several things you can do to protect your home on fire danger days
    • New satellites help officials locate hot spots

    Updated numbers as of 4/23/2018:

    • Rhea fire has burned more than 285,00 acres which is equal to more than 440 square miles (estimated 74% contained)
    • The 34 Complex fire has burned more than 62,000 acres (equal to almost 100 square miles) and is about 94% contained
    • Both fires have estimated costs above $2 Million
    • Central portions of Oklahoma did the best with the weekend rainfall but areas around the fires did receive more than half an inch

    Fires are burning in western Oklahoma.

    They have covered hundreds of thousands of miles and left two people dead.

    Oklahoma Forestry Services officials said Seiling, Oklahoma, is being evacuated over the fires. Firefighters in the area later clarified that they had warned area residents of the fire, but Seiling residents were not forced to evacuate.

    Oakwood residents, on the other hand, were evacuated Tuesday.

    VIDEO: Green Country firefighters head west to battle Oklahoma wildfires

    Here are the latest updates from the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management:

    WILDFIRES IMPACTING STATE

    Due to wildfires that continue to impact Western Oklahoma, the State Emergency Operations Center remains activated. The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) is in contact with emergency managers in the affected areas and is coordinating with Oklahoma National Guard, Oklahoma Forestry Services, Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Oklahoma State Department of Health, Oklahoma Department of Transportation, Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security, Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, National Weather Service, American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and Oklahoma Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD).

     

    STATE OF EMERGENCY

    A State of Emergency remains in effect for 52 Oklahoma counties due to ongoing wildfires and critical fire weather conditions that began Thursday. 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.

     

    The counties included in the governor’s declaration are: Alfalfa, Beaver, Beckham, Blaine, Caddo, Canadian, Carter, Cimarron, Cleveland, Comanche, Cotton, Creek, Custer, Dewey, Ellis, Garfield, Garvin, Grady, Grant, Greer, Harmon, Harper, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnston, Kay, Kingfisher, Kiowa, Lincoln, Logan, Love, Major, Marshall, McClain, Murray, Noble, Oklahoma, Okfuskee, Okmulgee, Osage, Pawnee, Payne, Pontotoc, Pottawatomie, Roger Mills, Seminole, Stephens, Texas, Tillman, Washita, Woods and Woodward.

     

    MULTI-AGENCY RESOURCE CENTER TO OPEN SUNDAY

    A Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC) will open Sunday in Taloga for three days in response to wildfires impacting the area. The MARC will include numerous agencies affiliated with the Oklahoma Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD) as well as public agencies including Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management, Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency, Oklahoma Insurance Department, and Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse.

    The MARC will be located at the Taloga Fairgrounds at 210 S. Broadway in Taloga. Hours are listed below:

    • Sunday, April 22 – 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
    • Monday, April 23 – 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
    • Tuesday, April 24 – 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

    An additional MARC will open at the Woodward Conference Center at 3401 Centennial Lane in Woodward on Friday, April 27 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Saturday, April 28 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

    WILDFIRE DAMAGE SURVEY

    Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management, along with Dewey and Woodward County emergency management, continues to ask residents impacted by the Rhea Fire and 34 Complex Fire to report damages to their property by calling 211 or using the following link http://arcg.is/uK0Te. Reporting damage helps local and state emergency managers better coordinate response and recovery efforts.

     

    At present time, more than 40 people in Dewey and Woodward counties have responded to the survey to report damages to their homes, outbuildings, vehicles or property.

     

    FIRE REPORTS

    Rhea Fire – Oklahoma Forestry Services reports this fire is now estimated at 289,078 acres.

    34 Complex Fire – Oklahoma Forestry Services reports this fire is now estimated at 62,089 acres. Reduced acreage is due to better mapping.

    SHELTERS AND MASS CARE

    All evacuation shelters are now closed. Forty people have stayed in shelters overnight since the fires began on April 12.

     

    American Red Cross and Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief continue to provide meals to firefighters and residents impacted by the Rhea and 34 Complex fires. They have provided more than 6,800 meals and 4,200 snacks since April 12. Fairview Methodist Church is also providing meals in Dewey County. American Red Cross is conducting client casework and passing out clean up kits.

     

    INJURIES AND FATALITIES

    Oklahoma Office of the Chief Medical Examiner reports a 61-year-old man died Thursday in Roger MIlls County as a result of injuries sustained in the fire that began southeast of Leedey.

     

    Dewey County Sheriff reports a woman died in her vehicle at a residence near Seiling as a result of the Rhea Fire.

     

    According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, 20 injuries have been reported by area hospitals:

    • Burns - 1
    • Smoke inhalation/heat-related injuries – 19

     

    HOW TO HELP – DONATION INFORMATION

    Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management asks the media and public to continue to share the following donations information. Be wary of donations requests from organizations or other sources that have not been recommended by local or state officials.

     

    When disaster strikes, the best way to support survivors of emergencies or disasters in Oklahoma is with cash donations to reputable voluntary organizations or disaster funds. Cash donations allow relief organizations or survivors to purchase what they need, when and where they need it. Buying supplies locally helps the local community recover by helping local businesses pay salaries and by keeping tax revenues in the community.

     

    Cash donations may be sent to the following relief funds:

    • Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Foundation - Make checks payable to Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Foundation with “Fire Relief” in the memo line and mail to P.O. Box 82395, Oklahoma City, OK 73148 or donate online at www.okcattlemen.org
    • Oklahoma Farmers and Ranchers Foundation - Make checks payable to the Oklahoma Farmers and Ranchers Foundation with “Wildfire Relief” in the memo line and mail to 2501 N. Stiles, Oklahoma City, OK 73105 or donate online at www.okfarmingandranching.org
    • Oklahoma Farmers Union Foundation - Make checks payable to Farmers Union Foundation, Inc., with “Wildfire Relief” in the memo line and mail to the attention of Wildfire Relief at P.O. Box 24000, Oklahoma City, OK 73124.

     

    In addition, cash donations may be made to the “Fireman’s Fund” at Bank of the West in Leedey to help provide fuel to volunteer fire departments working the fires. Please make checks payable to Bank of the West, with “Fireman’s Fund” in the memo line and mail to PO Box 38, Leedey, OK 73654.

     

    Cash donations may also be sent to volunteer fire departments, local churches, and voluntary organizations responding to the fires, including the American Red Cross and Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief. 

     

    The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service is organizing donations of fencing supplies, hay, supplemental livestock feed, and milk replacer for calves that lost their mothers. Anyone impacted by the fires and in need of these items may call Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension at (405) 590-0106, (405) 496-9329 or (405) 397-7912. Anyone who would like to donate the items listed above may also the numbers above to offer donations. They will match up people who have items or services to donate with producers needing help to rebuild fences, transport hay and similar farm and ranch activities.

     

    Other donated items are not needed or requested at this time. Do not send unsolicited donations of used clothing, miscellaneous items or perishable foods, which must be sorted, warehoused, transported and distributed. This requires more efforts and staffing to manage those resources and takes away from recovery efforts.

     

    UPDATED INFORMATION FOR FARMERS AND RANCHERS

    U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Oklahoma Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Executive Director Scott Biggs reminds farmers and ranchers affected by the recent Northwest Oklahoma wildfires that disaster assistance programs are available to support their recovery efforts.

     

    FSA can assist farmers and ranchers who lost livestock, grazing land, fences or eligible trees, bushes and vines as a result of a natural disaster. FSA administers a suite of safety-net programs to help producers recover from eligible losses, including the Livestock Indemnity Program, the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program and the Tree Assistance Program. Detailed information on all of these disaster assistance programs can be found online at www.fsa.usda.gov/disaster.

     

    In addition, the Emergency Conservation Program provides funding and technical assistance for farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters. Producers located in counties that receive a primary or contiguous disaster designation are eligible for low-interest emergency loans to help them recover from production and physical losses. Compensation is also available to producers who purchased coverage through the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program, which protects non-insurable crops (including native grass for grazing) against natural disasters including excessive wind and qualifying drought that result in lower yields, crop losses or prevented planting.

     

    AID FOR WILDLIFE

    WildCare Foundation in Noble is reminding the public that if they find wildlife that are injured or orphaned due to the fires, they can call (405) 872-9338. WildCare will arrange transport to move the animal to their facility for rehabilitation.

     

    FIRE MANAGEMENT ASSISTANCE GRANTS SECURED

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved the state’s request for Fire Management Assistance Grants (FMAGs) for the 34 Complex Fire in Woodward County and Rhea Fire that began in Dewey County. The grants will help reimburse local governments, volunteer fire departments and other first responders for costs associated with responding to the fires. The authorization makes FEMA funding available to reimburse 75 percent of state, local and tribal government eligible firefighting costs for the designated fires. Federal fire management assistance is provided through the President’s Disaster Relief Fund.

     

    Agencies are advised to document all costs related to equipment and supplies (including fuel), labor costs, travel and per diem, temporary repairs of damage caused by firefighting activities, mobilization and demobilization. OEM will continue to assess the need for additional federal assistance.

     

    BURN BANS IN EFFECT

    A Governor’s Burn Ban remains in effect for 36 counties: Alfalfa, Beaver, Beckham, Blaine, Caddo, Canadian, Cimarron, Comanche, Cotton, Custer, Dewey, Ellis, Garfield, Grady, Grant, Greer, Harmon, Harper, Jackson, Jefferson, Kay, Kingfisher, Kiowa, Logan, Major, Noble, Oklahoma, Osage, Pawnee, Roger Mills, Stephens, Texas, Tillman, Washita, Woods, Woodward.

     

    Additional county burn bans are in place for Alfalfa, Canadian, Grant, and Major counties.

     

    Outdoor burning and other activities that could spark a fire are strongly discouraged. Do not throw cigarettes out car windows. Report any suspicious smoke or fires to your local law enforcement or fire authority.

     

    PRICE GOUGING STATUTE IN EFFECT

    The Emergency Price Stabilization Act is in effect for the 52 counties listed in the governor’s State of Emergency executive order, which prohibits an increase of more than 10 percent for the price of goods and services after a declared emergency. Additionally, the act allows the attorney general to pursue charges against individuals or businesses that engage in price gouging.

     

    The act is in effect for 30 days after the State of Emergency. It remains in effect for another 180 days for prices for repairs, remodeling and construction. For more information or to report a complaint, individuals are encouraged to contact the Consumer Protection Unit by phone at (405) 521-2029, or email at consumerprotection@oag.ok.gov.

     

    DIAL 211

    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.

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