Friday, April 20, 2018

First 2018 wildfire deaths reported as Oklahoma blazes rage

The Rhea Wildfire (Tornado Titans photo by Chris Sanner)

The first two apparent deaths of the 2018 wildfire season were reported in Oklahoma this week as wildfires rage across the southwest part of the state. A woman, whose name hasn't been reported, was found dead in her car in Dewey County on Tuesday, and Jack Osben, 61, died Thursday from injuries sustained in a fire.

Hundreds have been ordered to evacuate from their homes because of the two largest fires. "The largest blaze — the Rhea fire in Dewey County — has scorched across about 246,000 acres. That fire was still only about 3 percent contained Monday afternoon. That percentage remains unchanged since Sunday, according to Oklahoma Forestry Services," Matt Dinger reports for The Oklahoman. "The 34 Complex fire in Woodward and Harper counties has scorched across about 68,000 acres, and was about 45 percent contained as of Monday afternoon, officials said."

Firefighters have faced flames that topped 70 feet at times, Reece Ristau reports for Tulsa World. Tulsa Deputy Fire Chief Andy Teeter told Ristau: "You can’t even imagine the scale of how big they are, how fast they move and how far they can jump ahead of themselves."

Western Oklahoma and several other areas of the U.S. are facing extreme or exceptional drought conditions in 2018, increasing the likelihood of a bad wildfire season.

No comments: