Weekend Rains Help Contain Oklahoma Wildfires

April 23, 2018 04:55 PM
Much needed rain helps nearly extinguish wildfires in Oklahoma.

Weather conditions have improved in northwest Oklahoma as much needed rain fell over the weekend in areas affected by wildfires.

The Rhea Fire and 34 Complex fire have been burning since April 12 and have combined for nearly 350,000 acres of damage. Rain fell on April 20-21 in the counties impacted by the wildfire, helping increase the containment of the fires. 

Oklahoma Forestry Services released on Monday that the majority of both fires are contained and the acreage has decreased after better mapping.

  • 34 Complex in Woodward County has burned 62,481 acres and is 94% contained
  • Rhea Fire in Dewey County has burned 286,742 acres and is 74% contained

The moisture received this weekend is said to be almost equal to what the area has totaled in the nearly six months prior. 

Oklahoma Mesonet estimates the three-day rainfall total for the weekend was at 1.09 inches near Woodward, where the 34 Complex fire has been burning. To the south the Rhea Fire forced evacuations of Seiling this past week, but fortunately the town got 0.77 inches of moisture. 

The weather forecast looks promising for more relief from the wildfires and drought facing northwest Oklahoma. The National Weather Service is projecting an 80% chance of precipitation for both Seiling and Woodward on Tuesday night. Seiling has a 50% chance of more rain on Wednesday and 20% on Thursday. Woodward has a 40% chance of more rain on Wednesday and 20% on Thursday.

Gov. Mary Fallin still has a burn ban in place for much of the western and northern part of the state. The 36 counties include: Alfalfa, Beaver, Beckham, Blaine, Caddo, Canadian, Cimarron, Comanche, Cotton, Custer, Dewey, Ellis, Garfield, Grady, Grant, Greer, Harmon, Harper, Jackson, Jefferson, Kay, Kingfisher, Kiowa, Logan, Major, Noble, Oklahoma, Osage, Pawnee, Roger Mills, Stephens, Texas, Tillman, Washita, Woods and Woodward.

Cedar tree fires are the majority of fires left burning in the uncontained acreage of both fires. 

A video of a cedar tree fire burning in the Rhea Fire can be seen below via the Oklahoma Forestry Services:

Fire activity in the cedar fuel type

#RheaFire #OKFire #BIAFireMgt The significant drought that has been experienced in the area has contributed to very dry fuels even in the living material. Fuel moisture content in the 70% range when 100% is considered to be dangerous.

Posted by Oklahoma Forestry Services on Monday, April 23, 2018
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