Oklahoma wildfires burn 200,000 acres

SEILING, Okla. — An outbreak of wildfires has most of Oklahoma under a state of emergency Friday evening. High wind and severe drought are creating blow torch conditions. At least one person has died and more than 200,000 acres have burned. About 1,400 people have been forced from their homes.

Wildfires are raging in Vici, Oklahoma, where they are burning homes and killing cattle.

Within the last 24 hours, Marty Logan, a storm chaser for CBS Oklahoma City affiliate KWTV, tried to free a herd of cattle. As the winds changed, he felt trapped and ran for his life.

In some places, the fire is spreading a mile every 8 to 12 minutes.

Since Thursday, more than 200,000 acres have burned across rural areas of western Oklahoma. The largest fire burning is the “Rhea Fire” in Dewey County. It’s 28 miles long and 7 miles wide.

The two largest fires in the county are still not contained and firefighters from Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas have arrived to help.  

A new tool for Oklahoma firefighters is the GOES-16 satellite that was launched last year. It is precise enough that forecasters at the National Weather Service (NWS) are spotting small flames in rural areas often before they are reported by people on the ground. It’s a crucial tool that has alerted firefighter to 40 spot fires over the last 58 hours.

A 61-year-old man died because of the fires but his name has not been released.

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