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Oklahoma governor meets with fire victims on damage assessment tour in Cleveland County

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin met with fire victims on Thursday, as the agent investigating the fires in Cleveland County determined the three fires that started on Cemetery Road were deliberately set. Two new fires are burning north in Moore and Norman.
BY JANE GLENN CANNON jcannon@opubco.com Modified: August 9, 2012 at 2:12 pm •  Published: August 9, 2012

State Emergency Management Director Albert Ashwood said representatives were looking particularly for the uninsured, trying to calculate the extent of damage and loss for reports that Fallin can use in asking for federal aid.

Damage assessment teams on a similar mission also were touring Creek, Oklahoma and Payne counties Thursday.

A preliminary estimate indicates 380 homes were destroyed and up to 110,000 acres burned statewide since wildfires erupted on Friday, Fallin said.

“That's a very preliminary estimate,” the governor said.

Fallin said the state medical examiner still is working to identify the remains of one person found in the charred remains of a home near 144th Ave. SE and Cedar Lane.

Norman police Sgt. Jennifer Newell said the body was discovered after police received a report of a missing person from a man who said he had been unable to contact his sister.

Residents in all the affected counties are dealing with the loss of power and no water, the governor said.

“I can't remember a time since taking office when total communities have had to deal with this magnitude of issues,” Fallin said.

The governor pledged to get families “back on their feet. It's that Oklahoma spirit that will pull them through.”

Vicky Grigg said volunteers have arrived daily to help families meet their needs, whether it be clearing land or finding food, water and a place to stay.

“We'll get through this. We have some insurance — I don't know how much — but many of these families don't. That's where the help needs to go,” said Harold Grigg.

Fallin met later in the morning with other wildfire victims at Twelve Corners Baptist Church at 15601 E Etowah Road, a one-stop assistance center for those in need.

Fallin urged people to report their losses and “save your receipts” for proof of loss once relief funds are available.

“You just being here today makes a big difference to these people,” said Slaughterville Mayor Bobby Cleveland, who lost his home to a fire last November.“I know what these people are going through, because I've been there. It's devastating to lose your personal possessions, your photographs, those things you can't ever replace. That's what you miss the most,” Cleveland said.


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