Dozens of structures, thousands of acres burned in Guthrie fire
By: Jay Dillon, Senior Digital Content Manager - email
It's believed to have been started with a controlled burn but when the winds kicked up and fanned the flames, thousands of acres of grass and cedar trees were ignited.
As firefighters continue to battle flames, temperatures in the upper 90s, and high winds, the scope of Sunday night's wildfire continues to become clear.
Guthrie Fire Department Chief Eric Harlow provided an update to the media at 3:00 PM Monday. Harlow said they're still flying over the area to determine the size. He estimates the fire has burned between 3,000 and 3,500 acres in rural Logan County.
Harlow said they have also counted at least 30 structures that were burned, six of those are confirmed to have been houses. Harlow said he expects the number of charred homes to increase but they have not had the resources to get inside the burned area to get an accurate count.
The fire is believed to have been started during a controlled burn. Harlow stressed that the person who started the burn did not need to have a permit to burn. The county asks landowners to alert firefighters but it is not required. A burn ban has not been issued for Logan County.
Close to 200 firefighters from departments as far away as Tulsa have been called in to fight the flames. Harlow said 37 of them were treated at the scene for minor injuries on Monday alone.
They're not just fighting this fire from the ground. The Oklahoma National Guard is flying in Black Hawk helicopters that are picking up water from local ponds or lakes and dropping it on the fire. The state is awaiting word from the federal government for a tanker out of Arizona that is the largest one that can deliver water from the sky.
Weather conditions have improved slightly as well. Winds are still blowing but not as hard as they were Sunday. Humidity remains low and the temperature has climbed into the upper 90s, causing the fire to continue to spread quickly. Flare-ups have been a problem on Monday, especially on the north side of the fire. Weather conditions are not forecasted to improve until Wednesday when a cool front moves through the state.
Harlow said the fire is burning close enough to Guthrie that crews have been able to access fixed water points and fight the fire faster. He also credits local oil drilling companies for stepping in and helping out.
"We've had good cooperation from oil field companies that have brought in trailers and equipment to help us fight the fire," Harlow said.
He said the fire may not be completely out until Tuesday. Once the fire is extinguished, they'll enter the area to get a more accurate count on the total number of acres and structures burned.
The Department of Agriculture and State Fire Marshall's Office is handling the investigation of the fire. They've pinpointed where the fire started but have not released the location at this time.