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Firefighters battle flames, heat in northeast Oklahoma City

Firefighters are preparing for another tough day in northeast Oklahoma City. Other departments are helping Oklahoma City crews.
BY BRYAN DEAN, TIFFANY GIBSON and MATT PATTERSON Published: September 2, 2011

Smoke rose over the horizon again Thursday afternoon in northeast Oklahoma City as firefighters continued battling flare-ups from a wildfire that has burned dozens of homes and about 4,000 acres over several days.

Oklahoma City Deputy Fire Chief Marc Woodard said the fire was mostly contained Thursday evening.

Woodard said the fire is in an 18-square-mile area, and 11 square miles of that area have been cleared.

“What that means is we feel confident we've gotten to all the hot spots in those 11 miles,” Woodard said.

Woodard said 457 firefighters from departments across the state assisted in fighting the blaze Wednesday. He said 317 helped Thursday.

Woodard said 25 homes and one church were destroyed Tuesday and Wednesday. No structures burned as of Thursday evening. There are three homes with major damage and another with minor damage. Numerous outbuildings have also been destroyed. Woodard said police are letting residents back into their homes as areas are being cleared of hot spots.

Oklahoma National Guard helicopters were called in to make airdrops after an afternoon flare-up in the 9800 block of Midwest Boulevard, but it was brought under control before it could spread the way the flames did on Wednesday.

Power remained offline Thursday in parts of northeast Oklahoma City.

Kathleen O'Shea, spokeswoman for Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co., said damage to the power company's system has been light considering the seriousness of the fire.

“We have about 1,100 customers without power, and we have either turned off power or we are not going in and restoring power right now because of the safety of the firefighters and our own crew.”

O'Shea said crews have completed some repairs and are waiting on the OK from firefighters to turn power back on.

“We're hoping by the end of (Thursday) we can get about 95 percent of the people back on, people who are able to take power,” she said. “Obviously, if their house has burned down or has significant damage we may not be able to do that. But the majority of the people, we should be able to get back on.”

Gov. Mary Fallin came to the wildfire command post at NE 63 and Sooner Road on Thursday and met with members of Harrison Bethel Baptist Church, who lost their building in the wildfire Wednesday.

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