Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management
Situation Update 2
March 6, 2009 – 9:45 p.m.
FIRES CONTINUE TO IMPACT STATE
The State Emergency Operations Center (EOC) has returned to Level One activation. Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) staff has returned to regular hours while maintaining 24-hour contact with emergency managers in the affected areas through the duty officer.
Since Thursday, numerous fires have been reported, especially in the northwest and central regions of the state. In Dewey County alone, fires burned approximately 60,000 acres. At least one mobile home was destroyed and numerous outbuildings were destroyed or damaged. Additionally, more than 300 cattle died in the fires. The fire is mostly contained and a majority of the mutual aid fire departments have been released. A small crew remains for mop up. Throughout the day an Oklahoma National Guard Blackhawk helicopter equipped with a 660-gallon bucket worked hot spots.
In Okfuskee County in the City of Weleetka five businesses were destroyed this morning after fire broke out in a downtown block of the community. Fires were also reported in Oklahoma County near Edmond and in eastern Garfield County.
A fire weather watch is posted for Saturday across the northwest part of the state. Warm and dry air will once again combine with strong winds to produce a critical fire weather threat. Additionally, severe thunderstorms are possible across central and north central Oklahoma Saturday afternoon and evening.
One firefighter was injured while working the Dewey County fire Thursday night. The firefighter was treated for smoke inhalation and released.
The Oklahoma Southern Baptist Disaster Relief and American Red Cross continue to provide food and drinks to first responders in Taloga.
In addition to OEM, the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH), Oklahoma Highway Patrol (OHP), Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT), Oklahoma Military Department (OMD), Oklahoma State Fire Marshal agents and the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture Food and Forestry – Forestry Services (ODAFF-Forestry Services) assisted with the wildfire response.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved the state’s request for federal assistance related to battling the wildfire near Taloga in Dewey County. Gov. Brad Henry requested the fire management grant to help cover expenses related to the fire. Under the grant, funds are available to local governments and volunteer fire departments that responded to these blazes. OEM is monitoring the situation to determine if the state qualifies for further assistance.
The Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives reports damage to Western Farmers and Kiowa Electric systems due to the fires. More than 200 electric poles and numerous miles of conductor line destroyed. Also 20 distribution poles destroyed. Initial estimates show at least $570,000 in damage to the rural electric cooperatives.
BURN BANS CONTINUE
County commissioner-ordered burn bans are in place in at least 55 of the state’s 77 counties. For a complete listing click on the link below to the official Burn Ban Web page: http://www.forestry.ok.gov/burn-ban-information
ARSON TIP LINE
The public is urged to report any suspicious wild land fire activity via the Arson Tip Line: 1-866-662-7766 (1-866-NO ARSON).
PRECAUTIONS URGED FOR THOSE WITH RESPIRATORY DIFFICULTY
The Oklahoma State Department of Health warns that people with respiratory difficulty, such as asthma, should take the following precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by:
Reducing the amount of time spent outdoors. This can usually provide some protection, especially in a tightly closed, air-conditioned house in which the air-conditioner can be set to re-circulate air instead of bringing in outdoor air. Staying inside with the doors and windows closed can usually reduce exposure.
Reducing the amount of time engaged in vigorous outdoor physical activity. This can be an important and effective strategy to lower the dose of inhaled air pollutants and minimize health risks during a smoke event.
Reducing other sources of indoor air pollution. Many indoor sources of air pollution can emit large amounts of the same pollutants present in wildfire smoke. Indoor sources such as burning cigarettes, gas, propane and wood-burning stoves and furnaces, and activities such as cooking, burning candles and incense, and vacuuming can greatly increase the particle levels in a home and should be avoided during high pollution or when wildfire smoke is present.