Wildfires are devastating Oklahoma
Wildfires whipped by gusty, southerly winds swept through rural woodlands north and south of Oklahoma City on Friday, burning dozens of homes as firefighters struggled to contain some of the fires amid 113-degree heat.
Hundreds of people were told to leave their homes in at least four counties, while smoke and flames prompted authorities to close parts of Interstate 44, the main roadway between Oklahoma City and Tulsa, and two state highways, reports The Associated Press .
"A man refused to leave. From what I know, he wanted to protect his property, but your life has to be more valuable than property," Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel said late Friday night.
The sheriff said at least 25 homes, a daycare center and numerous outbuildings had burned in a fire that may have been deliberately set near Luther, a town about 20 miles northeast of Oklahoma City.
Deputies were looking into reports about passengers in a pickup truck who were seen throwing out newspapers that had been set on fire. By Friday night, the blaze had spread across 80 square miles.
About 40 structures were destroyed by a blaze near Tulsa. And yet another blaze destroyed at least 25 structures, including a handful of homes, after starting near Noble, about 20 miles south of Oklahoma City, and moving toward Norman, home to the University of Oklahoma.