Note: This story has been updated with new information released Saturday about the wildfire.
OKLAHOMA (KFOR) – Gov. Kevin Stitt is calling upon the Oklahoma Air National Guard to help suppress wildfires raging in the state.
“They will provide air support to firefighters on the ground dealing with excessive heat from the blaze,” Stitt said Saturday morning. “Preserving homes and businesses is also a top priority.”
Oklahoma crews are still battling a massive blaze that ignited four miles west of Hitchcock in Blaine County at around 5 p.m. Thursday. They continued battling the inferno throughout Friday, and evacuated around two-dozen homes north of Highway 51 in the process.
“Wind is a pretty good factor in this. It just moves that fire right along with the low humidity and all that good stuff, plays a critical role in it,” Jim Shelton, the Blaine County Emergency Management Director, told KFOR on Friday.
Oklahoma Forestry Services officials gave an update on the fire Saturday, saying the fire’s size is 8,192 acres.
Forestry Services Task Forces are at the scene in unified command with the Hitchcock Fire Department.
First responders have faced multiple challenges, including steep topography, heavy cedar and brush fuels causing up to a quarter-mile spotting, according to Forestry Services officials.
Oklahoma Highway Patrol aircraft is in the sky conducting mapping and aerial supervision, and Oklahoma National Guard Chinook and Blackhawk helicopters are dropping large buckets of water on the flames, Forestry Services officials said Saturday.
What started the wildfire is unknown, but emergency response leaders have been focusing on keeping responders hydrated and on a rotation to avoid overheating and exhaustion.
The evacuation order was lifted shortly before 9:40 p.m. Friday.