Oklahoma residents survey wildfire damage; 1 dead

Dustin Ellison attempted to beat down a roadside hot spot with a mat from his car on Monday in Guthrie, Okla.
Nick Oxford/Associated Press
Dustin Ellison attempted to beat down a roadside hot spot with a mat from his car on Monday in Guthrie, Okla.

GUTHRIE, Okla. — Oklahoma residents returned to the ruins of their homes Monday as firefighters battled a stubborn blaze that began after a controlled burn a day earlier apparently went awry amid gusty winds and swept through the parched countryside.

A man who rejected an evacuation order died in the blaze Sunday night, authorities said. Forecasters said the fire danger will get worse before it gets better, with temperatures to reach 100 on Monday and Tuesday and daytime wind gusts to steadily grow stronger.

‘‘One thing I know about Oklahomans is we’re strong. We’re resilient,’’ Governor Mary Fallin said Monday after visiting with emergency management officials. A pair of water-bearing helicopters was dispatched to the scene earlier in the day, and Fallin said she had asked the federal government to arrange for a large air tanker to be sent from Arizona.


About 1,000 people were evacuated from their homes on Sunday but many returned to the rural area about 35 miles north of Oklahoma City on Monday to survey the damage.

Get Ground Game in your inbox:
Daily updates and analysis on national politics from James Pindell.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

The Oklahoma Forestry Services said the fire had burned about 3,500 acres by late Monday and was 75 percent contained. Local fire officials believe it started with a controlled burn but it wasn’t immediately known who had set the blaze.

Rachel Hudson, 32, lost her home. And around the time the fire arrived, her daughter Mariah was in a car accident. The teenager will need surgery.

‘‘That was all going on at the same time our house was burning down,’’ Hudson said by telephone as she sought shelter provided by the American Red Cross. The home where she lived with her daughter, her ex-husband, and her mother was not insured. ‘‘I’m scared. I don’t know what I’m going to do,’’ she said, starting to cry. ‘‘We lost everything.’’

Logan County did not have a burn ban in place Sunday when the fire broke out, said Hannah Anderson, a Forestry Services spokeswoman. However, she said, conditions were ripe for a fire with a recent drought, high temperature readings, and strong winds.

Associated Press