Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

National and World

August 6, 2012

First death reported from Oklahoma wildfires

NORMAN, Okla. — Oklahoma wildfires, fueled by persistent drought and scorching temperatures, have claimed their first life.

Fire Chief Jim Fullingim said Monday an unidentified body was found by firefighters late Sunday in a fire-damaged home in east Norman and turned over to the state medical examiner.

Amy Elliott, spokeswoman for the medical examiner, said the adult victim was burned beyond recognition. She said efforts are underway to determine the person's gender and race.

Wildfires burned out of control from Friday to Sunday in several Oklahoma counties, including in the Norman area just south of Oklahoma City. The State Forestry Services said 120 homes and other structures were destroyed and 58,000 acres burned.

Eighteen days of 100-plus degree temperatures touched off fires in the parched metropolitan Tulsa and Oklahoma City, where the thermometer hit 113 Friday, the highest recorded since Dust Bowl days in 1936.

Scores of residents were evacuated from small towns and rural areas as the wildfires advanced.

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, who last week declared a state of emergency statewide, toured the hard-hit areas Sunday. She promised to "pull out every single resource we can" to help the affected communities and victims who lost their homes.

Drought conditions throughout western mountain and midwest states have created wildfire conditions across a large swath of the country.

According to the National Weather Service, this year has been one of the most destructive on record.

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Details for this story were provided by the Norman, Okla., Transcript.

 

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