Homes burned and evacuated, roads closed due to grassfires across Oklahoma

FROM STAFF REPORTS Modified: April 9, 2009 at 11:56 pm •  Published: April 9, 2009
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Two tornados touched down in Ottawa County between 6 and 6:30 p.m., said Gary Brooks, Miami Emergency Management director. The first tornado hit between Afton and Vinita about 6 p.m. and a second tornado touched down south of Miami between Welch and Narcissa around 6:30 p.m.

No damage or injuries were reported, Brooks said.

Hail up to three-quarters of an inch was reported in Colcord in Delaware County and Nashoba in Pushmataha County and inch-sized hail was reported near Sallisaw in Sequoyah County , according to the National Weather service.

Update: 7:33 p.m.

Shannon Kaelin, who lives in the Oakwood East addition in Midwest City, said a police officer knocked on her door and told her to get out as fast as she could. She said she grabbed her young daughter, purse and cell phone and got into her car, but the prospect of leaving the neighborhood seemed more frightening than staying.

Kaelin said as she drove down the street leaving her neighborhood, trees were burning and flames shot up more than 30 feet into the air. Struggling to see amid smoke and bumper-to-bumper traffic, Kaelin said she could feel the heat from the fire as she crept past in the slow-moving traffic.

"I was so scared, I didn't know if we should jump out of the car and run (instead of sit in traffic)," Kaelin, 37, said.

At last count, about 100 people were using the Midwest City community center as shelter.

Update: 7:22 p.m.

Another 12 homes were damaged near Lindsay, 55 miles south of Oklahoma City, and another 20 were being threatened by a fire burning through brush and grass, said Eric Johnson, the Purcell city manager.

Update: 7:10 p.m.

A grassfire is threatening Choctaw High School, Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel said.

"We've got some communication glitches we're working through. But we're meeting the challenge," Whetsel told a local television station.

Whetsel urged people to stay away from the area, even if they live there.

"If' you don't have to be here get out of the area," he said. "This is a bad fire."

Whetsel isn't sure how many houses have burned in the Choctaw area, but said it's more than 20.

Update: 6:50 p.m.

The Oklahoma City Fire Department has expanded the evacuation area around Lake Draper. People between SE 120th and SE 149th from Anderson Road to Henney Road need to evacuate immediately.

People should evacuate to the north and west of this area.

Red Cross has opened a shelter in Midwest City Community Center, 100 N Midwest Blvd., and people in the evacuation area are encouraged to go there.

Update: 6:35 p.m.

Residents near Indian Meridian from SE 15 to NE 23 are asked to evacuate to the north and west.

Update: 6:15 p.m.

Midwest City residents near Choctaw Road from SE 15 to NE 10 are asked to evacuate to the north and west of this area. They are asked to go to the Midwest City Community Center, 100 N Midwest Blvd.

Also, residents near Anderson Road from SE 134 to SE 149 are asked to evacuate.

Update: 6:09 p.m.

Several large grassfires are threatening the area between Bradley and Lindsay and residents in the area are asked to go to Alex School, according to Grady County's emergency manager. The school has been set up as a shelter.

Residents between the Grady County-Garvin County line and Lindsay are asked to evacuate and go east to Lindsay.

Update: 6 p.m.

Several homes have burned to the ground in the Oakwood addition in eastern Midwest City.

Update: 5:57 p.m.

Firefighters and police are evacuating homes near Anderson and Hiwassee roads between SE 134 and SE 149 in the southeast Oklahoma City metro area.

Update: 5:56 p.m.

At 6 p.m., a grassfire caused the closure of State Highway 53, 3 miles east of Loco in Stephens County.

Update: 5:54 p.m.

At 5:15 p.m., a grass fire jumped over the road at SE 15 and Anderson Road. Residents between SE 15 and Reno Avenue and between Anderson and Hiwassee Roads have been asked to immediately evacuate.

Update: 5:42 p.m.

Two fires burning near Lindsay burned "multiple" homes in the town, a fire department dispatcher said. One of the two fires had been brought under control early this evening, but the other was still burning and threatening more homes.

The dispatcher said he didn't know how many homes had been burned.

Update: 5:33 p.m.

Several homes in Meridian have been evacuated, according to the Stephens County Sheriff's Department. Deputies are in the process of evacuating Meridian Nursing Home, and animals in in Meridian's Woodland Animal Hospital were safely evacuated.

Update: 5:10 p.m.

Three fires are burning out of control in Lincoln County this afternoon, said Ben Springfield, deputy emergency managment director for Lincoln County.

Homes have been burned south of Wellston, he said. Other homes have been evacuated near Sparks and northeast of Chandler.

"There is no count yet but there have been several homes lost," Springfield said about the number of homes damaged.

He said two firefighters need medical assistance now at the Wellston fire.

"The fires have moved rapidly out of control northeast," Springfield said.

A fire at SH 18 south of Chandler at SH B is out of control in the Sparks area.

He said bulldozers and road-graders from Lincoln County are being used to cut fire lines and fire fire breaks.

A Chandler police dispatcher said a fire is northeast of Chandler near Kendrick at 3400 Road and N of 840 Road

He said at least 10 firefighting brush pumpers are in Wellston and another four near Sparks while Chandler firefighters are on that one. He did not know how many acres have burned.

Update: 4:52 p.m.

Several grassfires near Velma and Loco have forced evacuations. Those leaving are asked to go to the Stephens County Fairgrounds in Duncan, said the county's emergency manager.

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WELLSTON -- Emergency workers are battling a grass fire in Lincoln County that has damaged structures, authorities said.

Lincoln County's emergency manager has asked those in homes and business es along County Road 930 between County Road 3330 and County Road 3340 to evacuate. This area is south of the Turner Turnpike about 2 miles south of Wellston.

Lincoln County emergency officials said residents of Sparks in Lincoln County are asked to evacuate. The Lincoln County's emergency manager Joey Wakefield told the National Weather Service that people leaving should go north on Acord Road into Chandler or go east on Sparks Road to State Highway 99.

A Lincoln County Emergency Management director's spokeswoman said a number of fire departments are south of the Turner Turnpike where the fire is burning.

A grass fire near Marietta has prompted the evacuations of homes. People living east of Oswalt Road are asked to go east, said Love County's emergency manager. Several grass fires are reported in western and central Love County.

Official: Conditions too windy to fight Oklahoma fires with helicopters

The number of homes burned has not been confirmed from across the state, said Albert Ashwood, state emergency management director.

"We're trying to do all we can and everything we can to help the local firefighters out there. When the winds are this high there is not a lot you can do but let it burn," Ashwood said about 5 p.m. "We don't have a whole lot of homes that have burned now but we do have a lot of evacuations underway. There are too many fires across the state right now."

He said conditions are too windy for helicopters to drop water on any fires.

Red Cross in Oklahoma City supports wildfire battles around state

The American Red Cross of Central Oklahoma has dispatched Emergency Response Vehicles to support firefighting efforts in two areas of the state, according to a press release.


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