Oklahoma wildfires 2012: Fire that caused evacuations contained
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Officials say a wildfire that prompted evacuations in parts of Oklahoma has been contained.
The Freedom Hill Fire Department says the fire that flared up near Mannford in northeastern Oklahoma is still burning Monday but has been contained. Officials say cooler temperatures and a light rain overnight helped slow the fire, which scorched more than 90 square miles on Sunday.
The National Weather Service says the fire risk remains very high with triple-digit temperatures possible Monday, but rain is predicted later in the week.
Multiple fires popped up in Oklahoma throughout the weekend and one blaze is being investigated as a possible arson. Witnesses told Oklahoma County sheriff's deputies they saw a man throwing a lighted newspaper from a black Ford pickup, but no arrests have been made.
Pastor Greg Mack at Slaughterville Baptist Church, where a shelter was set up for those forced from their homes by the fires in Cleveland County, said Sunday that some residents have not been able to reach their homes and others are finding theirs burned.
"They've been leaving here, trying to get to their homes. Some of them are and some of them aren't" able to return home, Mack said.
Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management spokeswoman Keli Cain said the agency did not know how many evacuation orders remained in place. She said officials would start Monday on helping in areas where requested.
"We'll be watching the fires and sending resources as needed," Cain said.
Gov. Mary Fallin traveled to Mannford and nearby Drumright on Sunday, where she met with residents and local officials, telling reporters afterward that the state is doing all it can to assist in putting out the flames.
"This has really stretched the resources of the state of Oklahoma," she said. "It's just been a huge fight."
Finch-Walker said Forestry Services had sent pumper trucks with water and bulldozers to fight the fires, while the Oklahoma National Guard provided helicopters to dump water on the flames.
"They don't put out the fire, they cool down the area," by dropping water on a blaze, Finch-Walker said. "To allow firefighters to get in and fight."