Oklahomans Return to Find Little Left After Wildfires


0  Updated at 8:03 am, August 5th, 2012 By: ABC Digital
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iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LUTHER, Okla.) — Nearly 100 buildings, including five-dozen homes, have been destroyed in the past two days in Oklahoma, where severe weather contributed to the rapid spread of a number of wildfires. Hundreds of people were quickly evacuated from their homes as the blazes approached.

Residents returning to their neighborhoods Saturday found little left, after hot, dry weather and strong winds turned brush fires into firestorms. Investigators believe the fire in Luther, Okla., was started deliberately.

Oklahoma Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Mary Myers said there were “no arrests, no suspects” but deputies were “working around the clock” to find anyone responsible.

The fires are now largely under control, and residents who were forced out of their homes are returning to their neighborhoods, and finding little there.

The fire in Luther burned about 4 square miles, leaving families to sift through the ashes.

“We just barely got pictures out, we got a few clothes,” Tracy Streeper told ABC News. “We had maybe 30 minutes. Memories, home, everything’s gone.”

Next door, Casey Strahan took stock of what was left of his home.

“In a tornado, you can pick stuff up, and you dig through and you find things that are salvageable,” Strahan told ABC. “You come here, and you move anything, and it turns to dust.”

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin early this morning visited with families affected by the Luther fire.

“It’s heartbreaking to see families that have lost so much,” Fallin said after talking with some who lost their homes. “I gave them a hug, told them I was sorry.”

Her emergency managers have told her this year could bring one of the worst wildfire breakouts in the state’s history.

“This has been a very, very tough situation, when it’s over 110 degrees, and you’ve got huge flames and massive fires,” Gov. Fallin said.

Oklahomans say they will rebuild, but the weather shows no signs of cooling down, and the probability of more fires remains high. The weather is similar to last year’s, when state agencies ended up fighting 1,800 fires throughout the state.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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