Dry conditions could cause volatile summer

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MIDWEST CITY, Okla.—With the summer heat comes a usual drop in rainfall, which can cause problems for families and firefighters across the state.

In 2009, a monster wildfire devoured between 50 and 70 homes in the Midwest City and Choctaw areas.

Just last year, more homes were destroyed by flames near Spencer and Jones.

Many of the homes have already been rebuilt but a lot of the brush from wildfires can be residual fuel that can spark again.

David Richardson, with the Midwest City Fire Department, said, “Those areas that have been burnt off get a fresh start to some extent. If you look at the remnants of that, there are still a lot of trees that are pretty big and have had several years to dry out even more.”

Fire officials say between 10 to 30 percent of western Oklahoma is green and closer to the metro, that number rises to almost 50 percent.

However, the rest of the area can create a volatile situation.

George Gessler, with the Oklahoma Forestry Service, said, “Oklahoma is experiencing, I guess, the continued drought from last year. While we have not reached the extreme conditions, we still have large section of the state that are considered under a severe drought.”

It is slowly getting worse and gradually branching out to other areas of the state.

Officials say the only thing residents can do to help keep things from getting out of control during a fire is to use plenty of water on vegetation before flames spark.

Richardson said, “Having that green that’s there gives us a better opportunity to slow the fire down. It takes a little bit longer to burn green grass and trees and what not.”

Even the smallest flame can ignite dry vegetation.

Embers from charcoal grills or welding units are known to cause fires.

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