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Oklahoma fires destroy homes

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 11:24 AM EDT, Sat August 4, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Authorities in Oklahoma County are searching for a possible arson suspect
  • At least six fires are burning in Oklahoma
  • The largest is in Cleveland County, south of Oklahoma City
  • A red flag warning is in effect for much of the state

(CNN) -- Low humidity and strong winds Friday helped fuel a half-dozen wildfires in Oklahoma that have so far burned at least 65 structures and are threatening more.

The largest of the fires is just south of Oklahoma City in Cleveland County, according to Jerry Lojka, spokesman for the department of emergency management.

"The metro area is not in danger, but there are still homes out there, and there are subdivisions that are in those wooded areas," he said.

Twenty-five structures have burned in Cleveland County, according to Kelli Cain, another spokeswoman at the emergency department. Roughly 100 or so homes there are threatened.

Fighting fire with data, spacecraft, drones

Another fire, in Creek County, burned 40 structures, she said. Helicopters are tackling both fires.

Video from CNN affiliate KOCO showed clouds of smoke so thick they nearly blocked a view of the actual blaze. Flames curled dangerously close to what looked to be a house.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol reported some road closures. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

Evacuations are under way in a part of Oklahoma County where the sheriff's office said it was seeking a possible arson suspect. A witness claimed to have seen a person tossing a newspaper that had been set on fire out of a truck, the office said. Deputies arrived to find a fire spreading quickly.

Extreme weather and a changing climate

A red flag warning was in effect for much of northern, central and southern Oklahoma through Friday night and Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.

"As tender and as dry as the vegetation is it can carry these embers way out and cause spotting ... It's going to be a rough night and a very rough day tomorrow. To slow things down we need to get things really humid and that's not going to happen overnight," said Scott Curl, a forecast meteorologist with the weather service in Oklahoma City.

Complete coverage of the drought and wildfires

Are there wildfires near you? Share your photos and videos on CNN iReport, but please stay safe.

CNN's Joe Sutton and Carma Hassan contributed to this report.

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