National Guard helicopters were being called out Monday to help battle a wildfire that has consumed 3,000 acres in central Oklahoma, destroyed at least six homes and killed at least one person.
The Edmond Fire Department said on Twitter that a 56-year-old man was found dead in Logan County. He had refused to evacuate his mobile home, which was located in a rural part of the county, News OK.com reports.
Fire officials say the blaze, which started from a controlled burn that got out of hand, is 75% contained, on the south, west and east but still threatens at least 150 homes to the north of the burn area, KFOR reports.
Guthrie Fire Chief Eric Harlow said firefighters hoped to call in National Guard air support Monday morning and bulldozers to battle the blaze, News OK.com reports.
"With the wind conditions expected to pick up throughout the morning and afternoon, we still have some concerns," Harlow told reporters Sunday night.
He also said that they do not expect favorable wind shifts or a cooling front, which are normal at this time of year, to be a factor until Wednesday at the earliest.
The Guard has four small choppers outfitted with infrared technology that can target hundreds of gallons of water onto the core of a fire. They can also bring in larger Chinook or Blackhawk helicopters for bigger battles, the Guard says on its website.
At least 1,000 people have been evacuated from their homes in the burn area, just north of Oklahoma City in the center of the state.
The Oklahoma wildfire is due in part to an extremely dry winter that left parched conditions across the state.
The past six months in central Oklahoma — including the site of the wildfire — have been the second-driest on record, according to the Oklahoma Climatological Survey. Just over 5 inches of precipitation (rain and melted snow) has been recorded, which is almost 10 inches below average.
Conditions are worse in north-central Oklahoma, where less than 3 inches has fallen. This was the driest November-April period since records began in 1921, even drier than the Dust Bowl years of the 1930s.
Statewide, nearly 80% of the state of Oklahoma is enduring some level of drought conditions, according to the most recent U.S. Drought Monitor.
Most of the state should see very high wildfire danger through at least midweek, according to the National Weather Service. Temperatures should soar to near 100 degrees under blazing sunshine, which will be accompanied by gusty winds and low humidity.