Fires Burn Out of Control Across Oklahoma with No End in Sight - 400,000 Acres in Flames & GrowingTue, 07 Mar 2017 16:33:31 CST
As wildfires burn across the Northwestern part of Oklahoma today, Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays caught up with Oklahoma State Forester George Geissler for his insights on the latest developments of this tragic ongoing event, as he monitors the situation. You can listen to Geissler updating Hays this afternoon on the latest developments, by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of this story.
"Right now we're looking at a complex of three fires that primarily in Beaver and Harper counties," Geissler reports. "That's where the majority of the damage is."
According to Geissler, the three fires combined currently total an area 400,000 acres and continue to grow. The fires are indeed burning so aggressively, firefighters on the ground are unable at this time to actively engage them. Instead, efforts are being focused to instead contain the fires and evacuate people and animals as is warranted, mostly in the Laverne vicinity.
Geissler reports that there have been a few residential homes destroyed since the blaze ignited yesterday afternoon, and there has been significant loss of livestock.
At this time, Geissler says there is zero percent containment of this fire.
"With the type of conditions we've had," Geissler said citing dry, windy weather, "we're in what I call the 10 percent fires. There's 90 percent of fires where the training and tactics that all our rural volunteer fire departments and metro departments utilize that will work. We're in that 10 percent right now where conditions are such that those tactics won't work."
The State Forestry Department has called in additional resources from Federal partners to assist in containment efforts. Weather forecasts predict more wind, making Geissler believe that tomorrow could bring significantly more damage. Currently, this is the largest active fire in the US. He says until the weather cooperates, the chances of bringing this fire under control is very slim.
"We're looking at days and days to get this thing done," Geissler said.
The Oklahoma Cattlemen's Foundation today announced it is spearheading a relief fund for cattlemen affected by these fires in Beaver, Ellis, Harper and Woodward counties. If you would like to donate to this relief effort, you can do so by mail or online. Make checks payable to Oklahoma Cattlemen's Foundation and put "Fire Relief" in the memo line and send to P.O. Box 82395., Oklahoma City, OK 73148. To donate online, click here.
"I know that many of my friends, neighbors and fellow cattlemen could use some help in recovering from this devastating wildfire," said Tom Fanning of May, Okla. who is currently serving as the Northwest District Vice President of the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association (OCA). "In addition to the relief fund, hay donations would also be tremendously helpful."
If you would like to donate hay or trucking services for hay, you can do so by contacting either the Harper County Extension Office at 580-735-2252 or Buffalo Feeders at 580-727-5530 to make arrangements or provide trucking services.
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