Fire destroyed a number of homes in this neighborhood in Midwest City, OK, Friday, April 10, 2009. Photo by Paul Hellstern
Hot spots in wooded areas gave firefighters a difficult time yesterday, and Clay said he anticipates they will do the same today.
"There was no way we could save some of those structures," Clay said. "When the wind is blowing 30 to 40 miles per hour, embers just blow from one spot to another no matter how much water you use."
Preliminary estimates indicate that 50,000 acres of Carter County were burned by out-of-control fires Thursday, said Ed Reed, Carter County Emergency Management director
"It was so hard, so fast and so furious," Reed said about the 13 fires that caused hundreds of evacuations. "The 18 years I have been doing this, I have never seen anything like this."
Fires started about noon Thursday and weren't under control until after 3:30 a.m. Friday.
At least one firefighter was injured.
Larry Hicks, Chandler emergency management director, said the injured firefighter's truck was overrun by fire.
Reed said he isn't sure how many structures were lost in the fires. They were out at daybreak beginning assessment of the damages.
At least one Ratliff City firefighter lost his home while fighting the fires, Reed said.
The Fox-Graham Fire Department was destroyed by fire while firefighters were battling the wildfires.
"They lost a truck, records, tools and everything," Reed said. "It was totaled. It was unbelievable."
Reed said he had no idea how many fire department came to the aid of those in Carter County.
In Murray County, fires continued to burn near Davis, dispatchers said. No major roads were closed. Portions of Interstate 35 that were closed last night had reopened.
Oklahoma Highway Patrol helicopters circled the devastation north of Lindsay, Friday morning.
A 15-square-mile area burned, McClain County deputies said. An estimated 10 to 15 houses were destroyed, but officials are still looking for possible losses.
Purcell City Manager Eric Johnson said his information is that 13 homes between Lindsay, in Garvin County, and Purcell, in neighboring McClain County, were damaged or destroyed.
The only severe injury firestorm injury reported occurred, near Lindsay when a motorist lost control on a smoke-covered roadway.
A raging fire fanned by 40 mile-per-hour winds caused the evacuation of the entire town of Velma Thursday.
The fire destroyed 15 homes and three downtown businesses in this Stephens County town of more than 600 people, said Gary Ball, Stephens County emergency management director.
There were numerous garages and storage buildings also destroyed in the fire that started about 1 p.m.
A couple of firefighters suffered smoke inhalation while fighting the fires. They were taken for medical treatment and then released.
Residents were allowed back to their homes starting at 11:30 p.m. Thursday. No one could enter the housing additions without going by City Hall for a slip of paper verifying their home address, Ball said.
Elsewhere in Stephens County, there were fires in Loco and between Meridian and Duncan.
The Meridian Nursing Home was evacuated during the fire, Ball said.
In Lincoln County, about 40 miles northeast of Oklahoma City, a firefighter suffered major burns while battling a blaze and was taken to an Oklahoma City hospital, Chandler Emergency Management Director Larry Hicks said. The firefighter was listed in stable condition in the burn unit of Integris Baptist Medical Center, emergency management officials said.
"We had one truck that got overrun," Hicks said. "It's pretty severe."
The only mobile Red Cross assistance location in central Oklahoma open now is at Midwest City Community Center, said April Wilkerson of the American Red Cross.
Community Shelters are open at the following locations:
First Baptist Church in Healdton
Midwest City Community Center
First Methodist Church in Marietta
Turner School in Love County
First Baptist Church in Nicoma Park