Wildfires in Oklahoma, Colorado force hundreds to evacuate
More than two dozen fires have been reported in several cities across the state, said Michelann Ooten, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management. Gov. Mary Fallin declared a state of emergency for all 77 Oklahoma counties.
"We know homes, as well as other property, have been lost and we will work to do everything we can to help Oklahomans during their time of need," Fallin said in a statement released Friday.
The fires destroyed 15 homes in the Choctaw and Midwest City area, another 12 in Harrah and 4 homes and 10 outbuildings in Shawnee. All three towns are on the eastern outskirts of Oklahoma City.
Sustained winds of 15 to 25 mph and gusts up to 40 mph were quickly pushing the fires across the grassy terrain, according to emergency officials. Authorities were unclear about whether any injuries have been reported.
Authorities expected cooler temperatures Friday night to help in battling the blaze, but they worried about the high temperatures forecast for next week, said Ooten.
Under Fallin's 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.
Earlier, several homes and schools were evacuated due to the fire danger. Evacuation centers providing shelter and food were opened to assist people forced from their homes.
Homeowners also took up the fight, including using water from a swimming pool. Several men could be seen in news footage filling buckets with water, then running into nearby woods and throwing it onto the flames.
In Colorado, hundreds of homeowners have fled as a 20-acre wildfire continued to burn a path toward their homes outside Boulder, emergency officials said Friday.
The fire began about 6:45 a.m. ET Friday near Longmont Dam Road, north of Button Rock Reservoir in Boulder County, a statement on the website for the Office of Emergency Management said.
By mid-morning, 50 firefighters from at least a dozen departments were on hand amid burning brush and billowing smoke, and 223 homes had to be evacuated, the website said.
The American Red Cross opened a center for the residents being evacuated from their homes, according to emergency management officials.
March 11, 2011