Woman found dead, burned in Rhea fire in her vehicle in Dewey County

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DEWEY COUNTY, Okla. – A woman was found dead inside her vehicle, both burned in one of the largest fires sweeping through the western part of Oklahoma. Now, fire crews are working to prevent any more injuries, death or damage as the fires blaze on.

The woman’s body was found at a residence just south of Seiling. Authorities are calling the circumstances of her death suspicious, trying to determine why she was in the car when it was overtaken by the Rhea fire.

“She perished in that vehicle,” said Dewey County Sheriff Clay Sander.

He said her death is being investigated as a possible homicide.

“Can’t rule out that there wasn’t something else that happened but, at this point, we’re early in the investigation and we’re going to treat it as a homicide just in case it turns out that way,” Sander said.

The woman was parked at someone else’s home.

“The other people that were there evacuated well before the fire, but she was still there,” Sander said.

If the Rhea fire, which had burned more than 241,280 acres by midday Saturday, was started intentionally or neglectfully, the person responsible could face murder charges.

Now, 500 firefighters are working to protect life and property as the fire progresses southeast.

“We have the town of Thomas that is going to be threatened in the near future,” said Weatherford Fire Chief Mike Karlin. “A lot of fuels between here and there, but we are fortunate that we got a lot of green fields to the northern edge of it so we’re feeling good about that.”

Oklahoma Forestry Officials said well over 366,000 acres primarily in western Oklahoma have burned. The 52-county state of emergency is still in effect, while strong winds urge on the flames.

“The wind’s horrible,” Karlin said. “We had wind all through the night. Typically, in the night, we get higher humidities, we get lower winds. The only thing that we’ve had is cooler temperatures, and that hasn’t affected the fire conditions at all.”

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