Firefighters battle hot spots in wildfires as highways reopen
BY RHETT MORGAN World Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 07, 2012
8/07/12 at 1:23 PM
Firefighters anticipating a windy and problematic Wednesday continued on Tuesday to extinguish hot spots at a wildfire in and near northern Creek County.
Officials said the fire has destroyed at least 70 residences in a 56-mile perimeter.
It has burned 58,283 acres, said Stan May, spokesman for the "Freedom Hills" fire, as it is being called.
All of the major highways in the fire area had opened up Tuesday morning, with speed limits reduced to 45 mph in lieu of residents returning to property.
Oklahoma Forestry Services units have built 30 to 40 miles of control line around the fire, spokesman Joe Goeller said.
Winds on Wednesday in the 15-20 mph range could be problematic, he said.
"Even though the fire has control lines around it, that still doesn't mean the fire can't escape our control," he said.
Firefighters are taking care of unburned islands inside the perimeters, he said.
"They heated up yesterday and made some runs toward some of the structures," Goeller said.
Creek County commissioner Newt Stephens said Oklahoma Gas and Electric is reporting that power should be restored to residents by the end of Tuesday.
Indian Electric Cooperative customers can expect to have their power restored by the end of the week, Stephens said.
Persons needing to pick up hay or donate hay can do so at the Creek County fairgrounds.
The phone number is (918) 224-2192.
Meanwhile, a fire near Cushing that prompted evacuations Monday and over the weekend was completely contained early Tuesday, when crews were only battling minor hot spots, a Cushing Fire Department firefighter said.
Displaced residents use Red Cross shelters
The Red Cross reported that seven residents displaced by area fires stayed overnight Monday at a Sand Springs shelter and one resident stayed at a shelter in Cushing. The Red Cross did not have numbers for its Lexington shelter.
Since the wildfires began, the Red Cross has recorded more than 230 "overnight stays" at its shelters, the organization reported.
The organization has also served about 1,900 meals and 11,500 snacks, according to a news release.
Nearly 150 Red Cross volunteers are responding to wildfire-damaged areas.
The Red Cross shelters remain open:
First United Methodist Church, 100 E. Greenwood Ave., Mannford (relocated from Sand Springs)
Cushing Senior Center, 203 E. Cherry St., Cushing
Slaughterville First Baptist Church, 10101 60th St., Lexington
Rain chances forecast today in Tulsa area
The National Weather Service forecasts a 20 percent chance of isolated showers and thunderstorms before 2 p.m. today in Tulsa.
Rainfall amounts are expected to be less than 0.1 of an inch without a thunderstorm, the weather service forecasts.
Tulsa's next rain may arrive on Wednesday, which has 20-30 percent chances of showers and thunderstorms. Sunday and Monday have slight chances of showers and thunderstorms forecast.
According to the weather service, Tulsa has received 0.35 of an inch of rain so far in August, which is slightly below normal rainfall for this time of the month.
Calm winds of around 5 to 10 mph are expected through Thursday, with daily highs reaching the mid-90s to mid-100s through the rest of the week, according to the weather service.
Overnight lows in the low to mid-70s are also expected to provide some relief to the area from the heat.
Tulsa's highest temperature so far this month was 112 degrees, reached on Wednesday and Thursday.
Heat advisory for Tulsa, surrounding counties
The weather service also issued a heat advisory from 1 to 9 p.m. today for Tulsa County.
Other counties under the advisory are Cherokee, Craig, Creek, Delaware, Mayes, Nowata, Osage, Pawnee, Rogers, Wagoner and Washington.
According to the weather service, these areas are expected to have heat index values between 105 and 110 degrees this afternoon, which combined with high temperatures and high humidity will create a dangerous situation where heat illness is possible.
World Staff Writers Althea Peterson and Zack Stoycoff contributed to this report.
Jacki Norrid sits with her dog in the remains of her home that was destroyed by wild fires Tuesday in Mannford. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World