Fires Race across Windy Oklahoma, Texas
OKLAHOMA CITY — Firefighters in Texas and Oklahoma battled wind-fueled wildfires Tuesday that burned homes and cars and forced one small town to evacuate residents.
The fires, at least several of which officials blamed on children playing with fireworks, raced across a countryside parched by months of abnormally dry weather.
Winds near 40 miles per hour whipped through the region, while temperatures rose to an unseasonably high 80 degrees Fahrenheit Tuesday.
"It's dry as a bone, and brittle," said Oklahoma City Fire Department spokesman Brian Stanaland. "The fire is traveling extremely rapidly. It's hopscotching across the country."
Television reports showed the fires moving across the prairies and into housing developments where homes were ablaze and cars burning in their driveways. Residents watered their yards to prevent flying sparks from igniting the grass.
At least six houses were destroyed and many others damaged in fires around Oklahoma City, the local sheriff's office said.
In the suburb of Mustang, officials ordered people living in the path of a fire covering several square miles to leave their homes. They said four people had been injured in the blaze.
In Texas, forestry officials said there were fires across the state, including at least 23 in the Fort Worth area in northern Texas alone.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry said in a statement there had been 73 wildfires in the state Monday, and that in all of December fires had burned 10,000 acres.
He issued a statewide disaster declaration and ordered that U.S. Forest Service and Texas Army National Guard aircraft be used to fight the blazes.