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Summer Fires Wreak Havoc

When we talk about weather here at Hail and Wind, it tends to be of the severe variety. But, one type of severe weather that Oklahoma has that may not get as much attention is the heat. This Summer is no exception. In fact, it is one of the hottest in recent history and a long dry spell has contributed to cause high risk of fire. Many have sprung up and many families have lost their homes. We work closely with Caliber roofing and will be taking donations to help families effected by  the fire. Here is one news story that captures some of the devestation!

Alex Williams, manager of the Jiffy Trip convenience store in Mannford, Okla., west of Tulsa, said light rain Saturday helped, but visibility remained poor. “The last couple of days, it’s just been a massive cloud of smoke,” he said. At one point, Williams said, flames were visible about a half-mile from the gas station.

The fires have caused widespread power outages and destroyed dozens of homes. “Everyone knows someone who’s lost something in this, so it’s really kind of been tragic,” Williams said. “There’s not a whole lot you can do other than grab what you can and get out — everyone that I’ve talked to pretty much has what’s in their car or on their back.”

The fires even surprised Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, who was touring the state by car Sunday and came across “a huge grass fire” west of Tulsa. Fallin watched as firefighters struggled to extinguish the blaze, which threatened a home. Last week, she declared a state of emergency statewide.

Reached Sunday by telephone, she said, “We’re going to pull out ever single resource we can to help our local communities, help those who have lost their homes.”

As of midday Sunday, no deaths were reported statewide. One fire near Oklahoma City had claimed at least 56 structures, and the total was expected to grow. Authorities suspect that fire may have been intentionally set: The Oklahoma County sheriff’s department was looking for someone in a black pickup truck seen throwing newspapers out a window after setting them ablaze.

Vaccaro of the weather service said “constant heat and dryness” this summer in the region — and elsewhere in the west — has helped spawn wildfires. More than 60% of the USA is experiencing some degree of drought, and dried grassland, forest and brush are “the fuel that can help feed and keep these wildfires going,” he said.

This year so far is on record as one of the most destructive wildfire years in the past decade: More than 4.4 million acres have burned. Full-year totals for the past 10 years average about 4.3 million acres.

The nation has seen somewhat fewer fires than usual, said Roberta D’Amico of the National Interagency Fire Center, but we’ve had “some significantly large fires this year.”

Forecasters said wildfires potentially could develop next in Northern California, Nevada and parts of Oregon, Idaho and Washington state.

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