Wildfires burn bone-dry Okla.; arson suspected in one blaze

10:21 PM, Aug 3, 2012   |    comments
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Oklahoma's governor has banned outdoor burning amid 113-degree heat and drought-fed wildfires that have destroyed homes and closed highways, including a stretch of I-35.

Residents of 75 to 100 homes in Luther, south of Oklahoma City, were ordered to evacuate a wind-whipped fire that officials suspect is arson. The Associated Press reports 25 structures have burned, including "a handful" of homes.

Oklahoma County authorities are investigating a report that the blaze may been started by a burning newspaper thrown from a black Ford F-150 pickup, KOCO-TV says.

In Cleveland County, several homes near Slaughterville were destroyed by a wildfire that was threatening 75 to 100 homes and appeared to be heading north toward the Norman city limits, The Oklahoman says. Between 100 and 150 residents evacuated,. according to the Red Cross.

The Norman Transcript has details of the firefighting and evacuation of people and animals.

So far, no reports of injuries or losses of livestock.

Fires are also burning in Caddo and Canadian counties.

The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry Forestry Services has daily reports on the fire situation.

Because of the extreme heat and worsening drought, Gov. Mary Fallin issued an immediate burn ban for all 77 counties, although outdoor grilling is permitted if it is "over a nonflammable surface and at least five feet from flammable vegetation."

Oklahoma City set one hear record today -- three straight days of 112 degrees -- and tied another -- 113 degrees.


By Michael Winter, USA TODAY

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