Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management
Situation Update 1
August 31, 2011 12:30 p.m.
STATE EOC ACTIVATED DUE TO WILDFIRES
Due to the critical fire conditions across the state, the State Emergency Operations Center is at Level Three activation, which involves extended operating hours for key personnel. The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) is in contact with emergency managers in the affected areas. Additionally, OEM is working with the Oklahoma National Guard, Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Oklahoma Forestry Services, Oklahoma State Department of Health and National Weather Service.
STATE OF EMERGENCY
A State of Emergency due to the wildfires and drought remains in effect for all 77 Oklahoma counties as declared by Gov. Mary Fallin on July 20. Under the executive order, state agencies can make emergency purchases and acquisitions needed to expedite the delivery of resources to local jurisdictions. The declaration also marks a first step toward seeking federal assistance should it be necessary.
Long term drought conditions combined with hot temperatures and strong winds to create volatile wildfire conditions on Tuesday. These conditions will continue the next two days across much of western and central Oklahoma. Forecasts for the next week show no relief from the exceptional drought conditions affecting much of Oklahoma. The National Weather Service has posted a red flag fire warning for today for the western half of Oklahoma.
EMSA reports 3 people were transported to local hospitals on Tuesday. All were transported in good condition.
On Tuesday, fires were reported in Oklahoma County near NE 63rd Street, in Pottawatomie County near Tecumseh, in Pittsburg County near Crowder, in Grady County near Rush Springs and in Seminole County near Seminole. Numerous homes and other structures were damaged and destroyed in these fires. Damage assessments continue in the hardest hit areas. Local investigations as to the cause of the fires are on-going.
The State EOC is working with the Oklahoma National Guard to continue to provide aerial fire suppression via Blackhawk and Chinook helicopters equipped with buckets. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol is assisting with ground to air fire observation via OHP helicopter. Oklahoma Forestry Services is providing ground firefighting equipment.
-- This morning National Guard Helicopters were deployed to assist on the 63rd Street Fire in Oklahoma County and the Rush Springs Fire in Grady County.
The American Red Cross reports they continue to operate a shelter for those displaced by the Oklahoma County fire at Forest Park Community Center, 4203 N. Coltrane. Seven people spent the night at the shelter. Additionally, they continue to support first responders. All total, the Red Cross has served more than 775 meals in addition to providing water and Gatorade.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health urges those with respiratory problems such as asthma, emphysema, and bronchitis and also those with chronic heart disease to monitor their breathing and exposure to airborne matter. If problems develop call your physician immediately.
-- People living in close proximity to the fire-stricken areas should remain indoors and avoid inhalation of smoke, ashes, and particulate matter in the area. Ordinary dust masks, designed to filter out large particles, will not help as they still allow the more dangerous smaller particles to pass through. Special, more expensive dust masks with true HEPA filters will filter out the damaging fine particles but are difficult for people with lung disease to use. Consult with your physician before using a mask, especially if you have a lung disease.
-- If you live close to or in the surrounding area, it's recommended that you refrain from exercising outdoors, especially if you smell smoke or notice eye or throat irritation.
-- Extra precaution should be taken for children, who are more susceptible to smoke because their respiratory systems are still developing and they breathe in more air (and consequently more pollution) per pound of body mass than adults.
-- When driving your car in smoky areas, keep your windows and vents closed. Air conditioning should only be operated in the "re-circulate" setting.
PRICE GOUGING STATUTE IN EFFECT
Oklahoma’s price gouging statute remains in effect in all of Oklahoma’s 77 counties due to the State of Emergency. The price gouging statute prohibits an increase of more than 10 percent in the price of most goods and services when a State of Emergency has been declared. Anyone who suspects price gouging is urged to contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit at (405) 521-2029.
For Oklahoma residents seeking non-emergency disaster or health and human service information, please contact your local 2-1-1. Services are available 24 hours a day by dialing 2-1-1 from your home or cellular telephone. Please only call 911 for emergencies.
Fire danger is high to very high across the state and numerous burn bans remain in effect, Oklahoma Forestry Services reports. Oklahomans are reminded to obey outdoor burning bans. Don’t burn trash or debris when conditions are dry or windy. Unsafe burning of leaves, brush, household trash and other debris is a major cause of wildfires in Oklahoma and under these conditions any fire can threaten homes and communities.
For more information on how you can prepare for wildfires, go to the Oklahoma Forestry Services’ website forestry.ok.gov.
Oklahomans are reminded to report any suspicious wild land fire activity to the Arson Tip Line 1-866-662-7766 (1-866-NO-ARSON).
Next Situation Update: As conditions warrant