The Norman Transcript

Local news

April 13, 2009

Rain helps douse wildfires in region

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Firefighters across Oklahoma caught a break Sunday as a rain-laden storm system doused smoldering grass fires and lessened conditions that could lead to any new ones.

Showers and thunderstorms helped exhausted firefighters extinguish blazes that flared in Oklahoma, Carter and Stephens counties on Saturday, officials said.

"We had crews out for about four hours Saturday, but we've gotten well over an inch of rain and that's helped us immensely," said Jerry Lojka, fire marshal for hard-hit Midwest City. "Anything left smoldering last night was taken care of and there have been no new fires."

In nearby Oklahoma City, firefighters worked on hotspots from a fire in thicket east of Lake Stanley Draper into early Sunday, a dispatcher said. No structures were burned and no injuries were reported.

In Stephens County, where fires flared near Loco, Marlow, Duncan and Velma on Saturday, all was quiet a day later, officials said.

"They are all out. Thank God," said senior sheriff's dispatcher Brandon Johnson.

The storm system responsible for the rain began moving across the state late Saturday and early Sunday. Rainfall totals ranged from 0.09 inches in Beckham County in western Oklahoma to 2.38 inches in McCurtain County in southeast Oklahoma, according to the National Weather Service. A swath of counties in the center of the state received at least an inch of rain, according to the Oklahoma Mesonet.

The precipitation came days after wind-whipped fires destroyed about 170 homes statewide and injured 62 people, two seriously. Fire investigators haven't determined what started most of the blazes, but Lojka has said the Oklahoma County fire was intentionally set.

On Sunday, he said the investigation into the fire was ongoing.

"We're only three days out," Lojka said. "There are lots and lots of people to talk to."

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