Oklahoma fires force the evacuation of more than 1,000 homes

Oklahoma fires force the evacuation of more than 1,000 homes

16 April 2011

published by edition.cnn.com

USA — Strong winds whipped up two wildfires in southern Oklahoma on Friday, forcing the evacuation of more than 1,000 homes.

The first fire, a large grass fire, burned west of Lawton, which is about 80 miles southwest of Oklahoma City. It forced people in approximately 900 homes and the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company to evacuate, according to Comanche County officials.

Roughly 50 firefighters were working to battle the blaze, officials said in a statement Friday night, but helicopters could not be brought in because of the strong winds. The fire, which was about 65% contained, has burned some 3,500 acres.

Seven structures, including barns, sheds and outbuildings, have been lost so far, officials said. One home was damaged.

The National Weather Service issued a high wind warning for Lawton on Friday, warning of possible early evening gusts of up to 60 miles per hour. The weather service said strong winds would likely complicate fire-fighting efforts.

Crews were also battling a second blaze in northern Comanche County that was about 65% contained Friday night, officials said. Evacuations were issued for about 130 homes in that area. Four unoccupied structures have been destroyed in the fire, which has scorched about 2,200 acres, officials said.

The American Red Cross opened an evacuation shelter to help house families forced from their homes.

Meanwhile, in northern Texas, a firefighter died when flames hit his truck, said Marq Webb, spokesman for the Texas State Lone Star Incident Management Team. The firefighter was a local firefighter from Eastland County, he said.

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