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Rain expected to help ease Oklahoma wildfires

  • Story Highlights
  • Forecasters may provide desperately needed rain Saturday to fire-plagued Oklahoma
  • Oklahoma governor declares state of emergency for 31 counties
  • Fire officials say one of the wildfires appears to have been intentionally set
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(CNN) -- Relief could be coming in the form of rain to stop raging wildfires in Oklahoma that have destroyed nearly 200 structures over a two-day span.

A firefighter sifts through the rubble of a burned home Friday in Midwest City, Oklahoma.

A firefighter sifts through the rubble of a burned home Friday in Midwest City, Oklahoma.

The rainfall is expected late Saturday into Sunday, according to Oklahoma's Department of Emergency Management. The agency also reported more than 60 fire-related injuries had been reported across the state.

In Midwest City, Oklahoma, one of the places hit hardest by wildfires, officials said Friday that at least one of the fires appeared to have been intentionally set -- although they stopped short of calling it arson.

"We'd like to make the distinction and understand that there's a difference between being intentional and having intent with malice," said city fire Marshal Jerry Lojka. "So we haven't proved that there was malice but we do know that the fire was intentionally set."

Winds that, at times, reached hurricane-force levels hopscotched through towns and neighborhoods, burning some homes while sparing others. iReport.com: Are you affected by wildfires?

Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry declared a state of emergency for 31 counties. The state was also hit with severe weather. Henry's order marks a first step toward seeking federal assistance, if necessary, by allowing state agencies to make emergency purchases.

"We are doing everything we can to deliver resources to firefighters and first responders on the front lines. They have done an amazing job under very challenging conditions, and we owe them a great debt of gratitude. Their heroism has helped save lives and property," Henry said in a written statement.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the scores of families and individuals who lost homes or businesses," he said.

A Texas couple packing their truck to evacuate their home was burned to death by fast-moving flames, a relative told CNN on Friday.

"I think they underestimated how fast it was moving," said Carol Quinn, the daughter-in-law of victim Matt Quinn. "I think this was very fast and very hot. ... It is an awful story."

Matt Quinn, 80, and his wife, Cathy -- two of the three confirmed fatalities in Thursday's fires -- lived in rural Montague County. Matt Quinn, a former reporter for the Dallas-Fort Worth station WFAA-TV, was a lifelong journalist.

The couple's son Chris, 30, was hospitalized in fair condition with second- and third-degree burns, and was expected to recover, Carol Quinn said.

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Another person was killed just west of Dallas and Fort Worth in what's being called the Cement Mountain fire, the Texas fire service reported Friday.

In Texas, more than 145,000 acres had burned, destroying more than 115 structures, according to the latest figures from the Texas Forest Service.

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