The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality has issued an ozone health alert warning for 31 of the 77 counties in Oklahoma. Carter County has air unhealthy for anyone, and three counties – Jefferson, Love and Marshall – have unhealthy air for sensitive groups. The other 27 counties included in the warning have moderate particulate matter in the air.
- Carrie Coppernoll
A press release from the American Red Cross of Central Oklahoma:
Thursday’s wildfire took a devastating toll on Oklahomans – houses burned to the ground, precious family possessions gone, emotional despair.
The American Red Cross is there to help people begin the process of rebuilding their lives.
The Red Cross continues to operate its shelter at the Midwest City Community Center, located on the corner of Midwest Boulevard and Reno. As casework continues for those affected by the disaster, the Red Cross will work with its partner agencies in the community to best meet people’s needs.
The Red Cross also has professional counselors on standby for anyone in need of emotional assistance in the wake of Thursday’s devastating wildfires. For help, call the Red Cross at (405) 228-9500.
The public can help their fellow Oklahomans by making a financial donation to the American Red Cross. All disaster relief provided by the Red Cross is made possible because of monetary donations from the public.
“We are proud to assist our friends and neighbors locally, and we have such strong community support standing beside us in that mission,” said Vince Hernandez, CEO of the American Red Cross of Central Oklahoma. “When you give to the Red Cross, that money stays in Oklahoma to help people who may have lost everything.”
The number of people injured in fire-related incidents continues to climb, according to state Health Department figures. As of 4:30 p.m. 60 people had been either injured in a fire or as a result of evacuations, said Patrice Greenawalt, trauma director with the State Department of Health. In the Oklahoma City metro area, 21 people have been injured. Seven fire-related injuries have been reported in areas surrounding the metro area.
- Julie Bisbee
People are also being asked to leave an area near SE 119 and Anderson Road because of a fire that is flaring up along the roadside.
- Robert Medley
A housing addition on Doble Road at SE 152 is being evacuated at 4:25 p.m. said Kristy Yager, spokeswoman for the city of Oklahoma City. The neighborhood is southwest of SE 149 and Anderson Road. See a map here.
She said police officers are going door to door telling people about the fire and urging them to leave.
“It was a real slow burning fire that has rekindled all of the sudden,” Yager said.
She said there are six fire rigs there fighting the blaze, which rekindled about 30 minutes ago.
Firefighters are also at SE 149 and Hilltop Road fighting that flareup.
- Robert Medley
Wildfires can affect the health of anyone exposed to the smoke and ash flung into the air by the flames.
This photo shows smoke hovering over the Oakwood East neighborhood in Midwest City.
The CDC gives these warning signs that you’ve been exposed to too much smoke:
- Scratchy throat
- Irritated sinuses
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Stinging eyes
- Runny nose
- Asthma exacerbations
These conditions will be magnified especially for people with lung or heart disease, according to the CDC.
Health officials advise people to stay indoors and keep doors and windows closed. Avoid vaccuuming, burning candles and smoking to keep the indoor air as clean as possible.
Dust maks readily avaialble at hardware stores usually don’t protect against smoke and dust particles. Specialty masks, known as “N95″ masks, offer some help.
- Carrie Coppernoll
Press release from the United Way of Central Oklahoma:
The massive fires of April 9, 2009, left most Oklahomans stunned and wondering what they could do to help. United Way of Central Oklahoma advises that monetary donations are the best way to assist. The organization has activated its Disaster Relief Fund so that individuals may contribute specifically to the fire relief and recovery efforts.
FINDING AID: Fire victims in central Oklahoma seeking assistance should contact the American Red Cross of Central Oklahoma at 405-228-9500 or call 2-1-1.
GIVING SUPPORT: Financial contributions are the best way to help unless otherwise requested. United Way of Central Oklahoma’s Disaster Relief Fund is open. Donations may be made online at www.unitedwayokc.org or by mail to United Way of Central Oklahoma, PO Box 837, Oklahoma City, OK 73101 with notation for Oklahoma County Fire Disaster. The American Red Cross is also accepting donations at www.okc.redcross.org.
RECOVERY EFFORTS: Early next week, United Way will also convene the Unmet Needs Committee which provides a roundtable forum for disaster response and aid organizations, caseworkers, and agencies with support resources to discuss specific needs they are seeing and find solutions. The Unmet Needs Committee has worked following most significant community disasters in the last decade.
United Way of Central Oklahoma has historically been focused on Community Preparedness ensuring our readiness to respond following emergencies small and large. As always, United Way maintains the highest level of accountability.
The fire that destroyed 17 homes and damaged many more was intentionally set, Midwest City officials said this afternoon.
Jerry Lojka, Midwest City fire marshal, said investigators have determined the fire was set by an individual at SE 29 and Post Road on Thursday.
“We don’t have a suspect but we are in the process of interviewing potential witnesses,” Lojka said. ‘There were activities in the area at the time the fire was discovered. There were no accidental causes. They have all been eliminated.”
Lojka would not elaborate on the manner of the fire’s origin.
Lojka was careful to label the fire as intentionally set. He said it is not yet considered arson. An arson is a fire set with malice.
“We haven’t proven malice yet,” Lojka said.
- Robert Medley
Employees at one nursing home in the line of fire yesterday got all 30 residents out of harm’s way and into a church shelter for a few hours yesterday.
Brett Coble with Meridian Nursing Home said the aptly-named Ray of Hope Church took in the residents and fed them Thursday evening. Other nursing homes in the Meridian area helped transport the patients to the church, and later back to the home.
“It was a successful evacuation,” Coble said. “No one was injured or hurt. It was a pretty overwhelming situation to be in, but we managed with all the support we got from the community and church.”
He said the fire came to about one-quarter mile from the nursing home.
- Susan Simpson
Some of the agencies, churches, nonprofits and other groups helping with disaster relief will be listed in The Oklahoman tomorrow. We’re looking for folks who are providing everything from meals to clothing to food. To read our most current list, go here.
To have your group listed, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 475-3911 by 4:30 p.m. today.
- Carrie Coppernoll