Oklahoma forestry officials report Woodward County fire 90 percent under control
WOODWARD — A week after it began, a wildfire that caused major damage to 10 homes and scorched nearly 90 square miles of northwest Oklahoma range land was almost completely under control Tuesday.
The wildfire, which firefighters have dubbed the 350 Complex, began last week in Woodward County when arcing power lines came in contact with dry grass and leaves, sparking several small fires that merged into a large blaze covering parts of Woodward and Harper counties. Oklahoma Forestry Services officials said the fire was 90 percent controlled Tuesday afternoon.
The wildfire caused major damage to one occupied home and either destroyed or caused major damage to nine unoccupied homes, as well as several other buildings, the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management reported.
Michelle Yunas, a spokeswoman for the state forestry department, said the fire still covered 57,167 acres, or about 89 square miles. But because the fire was mostly under control, state officials planned to return command of the fire response to local officials Tuesday evening.
Although the Woodward County fire is nearly under control, much of northwest Oklahoma is still at risk of wildfire, Yunas said. The rains that soaked parts of central Oklahoma only brought a light drizzle to much of northwest Oklahoma — not enough to reduce the fire danger there, she said.
“We need a good, soaking rain," Yunas said.
After calming down Tuesday, fire danger is expected to spike again by the end of the week. The National Weather Service's Norman office is predicting near critical fire danger on Friday across much of central and western Oklahoma.
The weekend could bring help. The National Weather Service is predicting good chances for thunderstorms across much of the state on Saturday and Sunday, with heavy rainfall totals possible. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Weather Prediction Center is predicting 2 to 3 inches of rain in northwest Oklahoma over the next five days, with heavier rainfall totals elsewhere in the state.