Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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August 8, 2012

Oklahoma wildfire deemed 'suspicious'

NORMAN, Okla. - Fire officials are investigating whether an arsonist caused a grass fire that burned 3,000 acres, killing one person and destroying dozens of homes south of Oklahoma City last week.

The state fire marshal discovered three places where a grass fire started near Slaughterville last Friday, before winds and dry conditions whipped the flames north toward the Oklahoma City suburbs, said Norman Fire Chief James Fullingim. Those three sources, in close proximity, are prompting investigators to deem the fire suspicious.

Also raising their suspicions are three grass fires discovered in the Norman area since then, each with two points of origin. Dead vegetation fueled those fires - Sunday night, Monday afternoon and Monday night - but all were quickly contained to less than an acre.

"The possibility exists that these fires could be accidental in nature," said Fullingim, "but it's suspicious when you have two fires that close together in time."

Friday's grass fire in Cleveland County still demanded the attention of firefighters who monitored for hot spots and flare-ups yesterday. It was one of many wildfires that burned 58,000 acres in drought-stricken Oklahoma last week.

Officials still haven't assessed the destruction caused by the Cleveland County fire. Its one known fatality was discovered late Sunday, when the body of an unidentified woman was pulled from a fire-damaged home in east Norman.

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

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