State of Emergency in Oklahoma; Cattlemen Start Wildfire Relief Fund

A wildfire in Dewey County, Oklahoma burns across the plains on April 12, 2018.  ( Cynthia Fariss of Leedey, Ok. )

Wildfires and drought have forced Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin to declare a state of emergency for 52 counties.

An estimated 200,000 acres in Oklahoma burned on April 12 and the fires are still being fought. The most fire damage has been in Dewey and Woodward Co. where towns have been evacuated. 

The counties included in the governor’s declaration are Alfalfa, Beaver, Beckham, Blaine, Caddo, Canadian, Carter, Cimarron, Cleveland, Comanche, Cotton, Creek, Custer, Dewey, Ellis, Garfield, Garvin, Grady, Grant, Greer, Harmon, Harper, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnston, Kay, Kingfisher, Kiowa, Lincoln, Logan, Love, Major, Marshall, McClain, Murray, Noble, Oklahoma, Okfuskee, Okmulgee, Osage, Pawnee, Payne, Pontotoc, Pottawatomie, Roger Mills, Seminole, Stephens, Texas, Tillman, Washita, Woods and Woodward.

Gov. Fallin has authorize state agencies may make emergency purchases and acquisitions needed to expedite the delivery of resources to local jurisdictions.

A burn ban is in place for 20 counties including: Alfalfa, Beaver, Beckham, Canadian, Cimarron, Custer, Dewey, Ellis, Grant, Greer, Harmon, Harper, Jackson, Kiowa, Major, Roger Mills, Texas, Washita, Woods, and Woodward.

"I’m asking all Oklahomans to be vigilant and careful, and to do their part to prevent fires," Fallin says. "Anything that can be done to minimize fires will help to keep both our firefighters and the public safe."

Under the burn ban it is unlawful to set fire to any forest, grass, woods, wildlands, or marshes; to build a bonfire or fire; to burn or ignite fireworks; or to burn trash or other materials outdoors in any of the listed counties.

The executive order is in effect for the next 30 days.

Cattlemen Set Up Relief Fund

Following the efforts past two years of wildfires in the Southern Plains a relief fund has been established to aid cattle producers impacted by fire. The Oklahoma Cattlemen's Foundation (OCF) started a fund to help cattlemen who have been affected by on-going wildfires in Western Oklahoma.

"Oklahoma wind and drought conditions spurred several large fires on the western side of the Oklahoma yesterday effecting many cattlemen," says Tiffani Pruitt, coordinator of the OCF, a charitable arm of the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association. "One thing we've learned from the wildfires in the past few years is that folks are quick to want to help those in unfortunate situations, and that is truly humbling. The OCF is happy to provide a place for funds to be held. We will coordinate with the Extension Offices in the effected areas to organize relief efforts and to identify ranchers that are in need."

According to Michael Kelsey, executive vice president of the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association, "OCA is coordinating with Extension, The Farm Service Agency and others to bring information to ranchers about disaster assistance. We humbly ask for prayers for ranchers, firefighters and folks in the paths of these devastating fires."

100% of donations will be distributed to ranchers who have been affected by the fires. You may donate to this relief effort by mail or online. Make checks payable to Oklahoma Cattlemen's Foundation, with "Fire Relief" in the memo line and send to P.O. Box 82395., Oklahoma City, OK 73148. To donate online, visit www.okcattlemen.org.

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