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Northwest Oklahoma residents to evacuate as fire burns thousands of acres; relief in sight

As drought and extreme temperatures persist across the region, some residents in Northwestern Oklahoma are evacuating their homes as a wildfire continues to scorch thousands of acres.

The fire, located northeast of Mooreland — about 10 miles east of Woodward — began Monday afternoon and has since burned around 18,000 acres. Residents around these areas were issued an evacuation warning Wednesday.

According to the Enid/Garfield County Emergency Management, the Governor’s office denied several requests for helicopter support to put out the blaze, but eventually gave approval Tuesday, and helicopters arrived Wednesday. Officials say no homes have been damaged by the fire, but that the nature of the land — mainly canyons full of cedar trees — has made management efforts tough.

The Mooreland fire is far from the only wildfire currently raging in the state. According to FEMA, there are more than a dozen active fires burning now in Oklahoma, and over half of the state is under a burn ban. Earlier this month, the Blaine County fire burned around 10,000 acres and required about 120 fire crews from across the region to contain it.

Cooler temperatures and rain are predicted for the end of the week. Firefighters are hoping that will offer some relief.

Fire officials say residents should fireproof their homes by keeping grass short and not storing fuel material like firewood near the home. FEMA recommends creating at least 30 feet of defensible space around homes that is clear of flammable vegetation. More fireproofing tips can be found here.

Beth Wallis is StateImpact Oklahoma's education reporter.
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