By Rep. Mike Sanders
At least one person perished and many families lost homes and livestock to fires raging through much of District 59. High winds and a five-month drought have made these fires among the worst in years.
Last week and this week, fires burned in Putnam, Vici, Seiling Taloga, Oakwood, east of Leedey and east of Camargo, consuming more than 280,000 acres in the Rhea fire in Dewey County. In Woodward, several homes have been lost and more than 70,000 acres burned in the 34 Complex fire. Thousands of head of livestock have perished or are missing in Dewey and Woodward Counties. Fire lengths have reached up to 225 feet.
These fires are just absolutely devastating. Many of our neighbors lost their homes and everything they own. And yet, the outpouring of support from people from across the state as well as my colleagues in the House of Representatives has been humbling. People have donated water, hay, money and more, really living up to the Oklahoma standard.
Please join me in praying for the families of the victims and those who have lost property and livestock. Pray God will send rain to quench these fires and will protect people and property still in the path. Pray also for the protection of the firefighters battling these blazes.
More than 600 firefighters from across the state and the nation have come to help assist in putting out the fires. I’m so thankful for the work of our local fire crews in protecting lives and property and for the help from states such as Kansas, Florida and Texas. I’m also thankful for the work of our county commissioners and emergency managers as they work to help people get out of danger and find help for recovery.
I’m also asking folks to consider donating monetarily to local volunteer fire departments; Dewey and Woodward Counties are particularly in need.
Following is a list of a few sites that are taking donations of money or hay or have suggestions on how to help. Many are offering assistance to those affected as well.
Oklahoma Farm Bureau: http://okfarmbureau.org/index.php?action=news.newsdetail&rowid=1005.
The Oklahoma Cattleman’s Association: http://www.okcattlemen.org/wildfire-relief-fund
The Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts: https://www.okconservation.org/news/okwildfirerelief
OSU’s Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service: http://www.oces.okstate.edu/
American Farmers & Ranchers is accepting donations. Checks should be made payable to Farmers Union Foundation, Inc., with “Wildfire Relief” in the memo line. Donations should be mailed to Wildlife Relief, P.O. Box 24000, Oklahoma City, OK 73124.
Much of Oklahoma has been placed under a burn ban, so please, please, please do not light fires for any reason. Do not start the grill. Do not throw cigarettes out of your car window. There is a 100 percent ignition rate, so we must have absolutely no self-started fires.
The governor last week declared a state of emergency for 52 counties, including Blaine, Dewey, Kingfisher and Woodward and many surrounding us. The governor’s executive order allows state agencies to make emergency purchases and acquisitions needed to expedite the delivery of resources to local jurisdictions. The declaration also marks a first step toward seeking federal assistance should it be necessary.
Again, please stay out of harm’s way. Property can be replaced; lives can’t. Please pray and please consider donating to help those who have lost much in this tragedy.
In the meantime, if I can help you with anything, please feel free to contact me. I can be reached at (405) 557-7407 or firstname.lastname@example.org.