Oklahoma wildfires destroy homes, fuelled by record high temperatures


The wildfires raging across Oklahoma have been fuelled by record high temperatures.


Tom Pennington

The gusty, southerly winds that whipped wildfires through rural woodlands north and south of Oklahoma City appeared to be brought under control today - but not before destroying dozens of homes and commercial buildings.

The New York Daily News reported that hundreds of people were evacuated from their homes in at at least four counties, while smoke and flames prompted authorities to close major highways.

“A man refused to leave. From what I know, he wanted to protect his property, but your life has to be more valuable than property,” Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel was quoted in the New York Daily News.

The sheriff said at least 25 homes, a daycare center and numerous outbuildings had burned in a fire that may have been deliberately lit in the town of Luther, about 20 miles northeast of Oklahoma City.

Reuters said fires are being fed by widespread drought across America.

Oklahoma joins several states that have been plagued by wildfires this summer, including Colorado, Arkansas and Nebraska. Fires are being fed by a widespread drought, it wrote.

Low humidity, strong southerly winds and drought conditions enabled the wildfires to spread quickly across treetops, said Michelann Ooten, deputy director of the state's Office of Emergency Management.