Dry, Windy Conditions Prompt Fires

ARDMORE, Okla. (AP) -- Warm, dry and windy conditions spawned wildfires across southern Oklahoma on Saturday.

Comanche County officials battled a 4,000 acre wildfire that had been burning since about 2 p.m. Saturday late into the night.

The blaze was about 2.5 miles wide, said Michelann Ooten, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management.

Ooten said about 15 structures were in the path of the fire.

''We don't know what kind of structures those are,'' Ooten said. ''They could just be outbuildings, we don't know.''

Ooten said if the fire continued to burn Sunday the state department was prepared to use helicopters and a substance that limits the spread of a fire.

Earlier in the day, crews battled three separate fires in Carter County. Those fires were under control by 6 p.m. Saturday. Fires in Love County consumed nearly 140 acres of grassland, and another fire burned in Stephens County.

No injuries were reported in the fires and residents had not been evacuated from their homes, Ooten said.

A red flag fire alert was issued Friday and Saturday for the entire state. Officials with the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry said high winds and low humidity throughout the state made the fire damage high.

''I'm not sure we've been this dry this early,'' Ooten said. ''The weather conditions are so wonderful, but the downside is that we're prone to having fires like this.''

The United States Forest Service also issued fire alerts for the Ozark-St. Francis-Ouachita National Forest in eastern Oklahoma and Arkansas.

''Wildfires burning under these conditions can create extensive damage to forests resources, and we are concerned about the potential for wildfires now,'' said Forest Service Management Office Roger Fryar.

The public is asked to avoid burning trash or brush piles until the conditions subside.