US wildfires leave two dead in Oklahoma

Oklahoma state of emergency for 52 of the state's 77 counties because of fires and conditions for more fires to start.

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    Wildfires have killed two people in western Oklahoma and could spread and ignite more fires in the process.

    Gusty wind of up to 80 kilometres per hour whipped across an area where scant rain has fallen in five months, fire and forestry officials said on Tuesday.

    Several of the wildfires began last week, and the largest, dubbed the Rhea Fire, started on Thursday. By Tuesday, it covered nearly 100,000 hectares in western Oklahoma, and was only three percent contained, said Shawna Hartman, spokesperson for Oklahoma Forestry Services.

    Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin has declared a state of emergency for 52 of the state's 77 counties because of the wildfires and critical conditions for more fires to start.

    Slightly cooler weather is expected over the next few days. Temperatures will be around eight degrees down with highs approaching the low 20s Celsius.

    However, the strong and gusty winds, along with the low humidity, are expected to remain at least into the weekend.

    Rain, possibly heavy at times, is expected to sweep across the Southern Plains on Saturday.

    As the rain sets in, we may find temperatures struggling to get into double figures, all of which will come as welcome news to the firefighters battling the blazes.

    SOURCE: Reuters news agency


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