Oklahoma grass fire forces evacuations, closes highway

CHICKASHA, Okla. – A wildfire fueled by dry vegetation and strong winds, burned fields and pastures in central Oklahoma Thursday, causing some residents to flee their homes and closing part of a nearby highway.

Grady County deputy emergency management director Amanda Wilkerson said flames threatened structures in the vicinity of the H. E. Bailey Turnpike south of Bridge Creek. The area is approximately 28 miles (45 kilometres south-west of Oklahoma City.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol said the smoke from the fire prompted authorities to close part of the motorway, shortly after noon. It reopened for 2 hours

Jamie Lewis, the owner of a pet boarding and grooming business in the area, said she was not told to evacuate, but could see the flames through the treetops and called them “frightening.”

Lewis also said that she is reluctant to leave, because they want to make sure that the animals in her care are safe.

Wilkerson, said emergency management officials have ordered some residents to evacuate, but that the number of homes affected was not immediately clear. No injuries were reported.

Wilkerson said the fire was reported shortly after noon on Thursday and has burned approximately 100 acres (40 hectares). She said firefighters combat the flames fanned by the wind, gusting to 35 km / h (56 km / h).

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