Suspect starts fires with tracer rounds then shoots at firefighters

Optima Wildlife Management Area in Oklahoma

semiautomatic weapon tracer rounds Oklahoma arson
Photo by Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

On April 17 an individual that was illegally camping in the Optima Wildlife Management Area in the Oklahoma panhandle and was asked to leave by an Oklahoma Game Warden. As the suspect was departing several fires were started by tracer rounds fired from the suspect’s semiautomatic rifle. As firefighters attempted to extinguish the fires they were shot at multiple times by the individual. The shooter wandered off into the lakebed, setting more fires.

Approximately five hours later and after some intense moments, he was located, talked out, and taken into custody by the Texas County Sheriff’s Office and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

On April 18 Game Warden Mike Baker returned to the scene to attempt to locate the firearm that was reportedly used by the suspect to shoot at the firefighters. The Game Warden talked to two of the firefighters involved in the incident who pointed him to an area where the suspect was last seen starting additional fires.

Game Warden Baker was able to locate tracks that he believed belonged to the suspect and followed them to a point where he located a semiautomatic rifle and two empty magazines that are believed to be the same weapon used by the suspect.

Firefighters posted video of the active scene in which you can hear shots being fired, and firefighters saying, “We’re being shot at!”. Warning, adult language was used.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Matt. Typos or errors, report them HERE.

Structures burn in Oklahoma wildfire

A fire in the panhandle has burned over 29,000 ares

Map 412 Fire in Beaver County, Oklahoma
Map of the 412 Fire in Beaver County, Oklahoma. Data from 1:30 p.m. CDT March 8, 2020, by Oklahoma Forestry Services. The map shows a small fire northwest of the larger 412 Fire which is the Beaver Road Fire that occurred Sunday, March 1, 2020.

(UPDATED at 8:01 p.m. CDT March 8, 2020)

After more accurate mapping the Oklahoma Forestry Services reported Sunday afternoon that the Beaver Fire in Beaver County has burned 29,120 acres and is 50 percent contained. Crews continue to improve fireline and mopup hot spots.

On Saturday Cody Rehder of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol wrote on Twitter, “The town of Beaver is being evacuated at this time. The fire has reached the SW edge of town. Structures are on fire and the HS football field as burned.”

412 Fire in Beaver County, OK
Photos from the 412 Fire in Beaver County, OK. Photos by Cody Rehder of the OK Highway Patrol, March 7, 2020.

(UPDATED at 12:55 p.m.CST March 8, 2020)

The Beaver fire in the panhandle of Oklahoma is still estimated to be 13,000 acres, but that could change after more accurate mapping is complete. Saturday the Oklahoma Forestry Services responded to 30 new wildfires.

In a Sunday morning update the OFS said, “OFS are over the fire in an [Oklahoma Highway Patrol] aircraft mapping the fire and coordinating with ground resources. Rain chances do enter the southwestern part of the state this afternoon and gradually move east through the state, but going fires from yesterday will remain active.”

Crow Fire in Latimer County
A new fire Sunday morning, the Crow Fire, in Latimer Co. near Panola Mtn. OFS photo.

(Originally published at 9:37 p.m. CST March 7, 2020)

The 412 Fire in the Oklahoma panhandle has destroyed structures and burned approximately 13,000 acres, the Oklahoma Forestry Services (OFS) announced in an update at about 8 p.m. CST Saturday. At about 7:30 p.m. Saturday the OFS said fire had been at least temporarily stopped at the EW 100 road three miles north of Beaver.

The communities of Beaver and Forgan are under evacuation orders.  Firefighters from Oklahoma, Texas, and Kansas are battling the fire along with Air Tanker 95, a privately owned S-2 aircraft formerly operated by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The air tanker is under a call when needed arrangement in Kansas, operated by Ag Air Service out of Nikerson, Kansas. The aircraft can carry up to 800 gallons and still has the radial engines, unlike the S-2s operated by CAL FIRE today that have been converted to turbine engines.

Air Tanker 95
Air Tanker 95. Photo by Kansas Forest Service.

There are no details available as to the number of structures that have been destroyed or the locations. Damage assessments are underway.

Red Flag Warnings Oklahoma
Red Flag Warnings in northwest Oklahoma, March 7, 2020.

The area was under a Red Flag Warning on Saturday. Strong winds pushed the fire approximately 14 miles across plains.

The 412 Fire occurs one day after the three-year anniversary of the huge Starbuck Fire that burned half a million acres across Oklahoma and Kansas. State and county officials estimated the fire caused at least $50 million in damages.

The 412 Fire near Beaver was one of 19 wildfires the OFS responded to across the state Saturday.


Oklahoma 412 fire wildfire Beaver
Satellite image showing heat detected on the 412 Fire in the Oklahoma panhandle at 5 p.m. DST March 7, 2020. GOES-17 NASA image.
Oklahoma 412 fire wildfire Beaver smoke
412 Fire, March 7, 2020. Photo by Oklahoma Forestry Services.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Matt. Typos or errors, report them HERE.

Satellite image of fires in Arkansas, March 5, 2020

Fires also detected in eastern OK and southeast MO

fires and smoke in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri
At 4:14 p.m. CST the GOES 16 satellite detected fires and smoke in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri. NASA data, processed by Wildfire Today.

At 4:14 p.m. CST on March 5 the GOES 16 satellite detected fires and smoke in Arkansas, eastern Oklahoma, and southeast Missouri. It is difficult to tell if they are wildfires, prescribed fires, or agricultural burning, but most of them appear to in forested areas.

The March 5 prediction for Red Flag Warnings designated areas of enhanced wildfire danger north and northwest of Arkansas.

wildfires Red Flag Warnings, March 5, 2020
Red Flag Warnings, March 5, 2020.

Oklahoma firefighter suffered severe burns after becoming entrapped

The firefighter was operating a UTV when it became disabled

Oklahoma Map EntrapmentOn September 12, 2019 an Oklahoma firefighter operating a UTV became entrapped during the initial attack of a wildfire in the southeast part of the state 24 miles northeast of Antlers.   The Oklahoma Forestry Services released the following preliminary information about the incident.

“On September 12, 2019 during initial attack efforts on the Jack Creek Fire, an Oklahoma Forestry Services firefighter from the Southeast Area / Antlers District was involved in an entrapment and subsequent burnover while scouting control line opportunities. The fire was burning in steep, rugged terrain dominated by dense pine forest with occasional hardwood glades. The firefighter was operating a UTV scouting logging roads for access and suppression opportunities when the UTV became disabled. The firefighters escape route was compromised when fire behavior increased due to the fire making an uphill run in the flashy understory fuels and crown fire in the canopy fuels. The firefighter did not deploy his fire shelter.

“The dispatch office requested an ambulance at the time of the incident while Oklahoma Forestry Services and local fire department personnel located the firefighter. The firefighter was transported to ground ambulance then transferred to air ambulance taking the firefighter to a burn center. The firefighter remains at the burn center and is being treated for second and third degree burns on >30% of his body with the most intense burns to his face and hands.

“An Incident Review Team has been assembled.”

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Matt. Typos or errors, report them HERE.

Over 2 million acres burned in Flint Hills in 28 days

map Flint Hills burning
Map showing heat detected by satellites during the last seven days. Updated at 1 p.m. CDT April 19, 2019.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) says the average annual acreage burned in the Flint Hills during the prescribed fire season was almost matched over the past month. Most of the burning is related to agriculture, improving pastures or preparing crop lands.

map flint hillsAlmost 2.1 million acres of grassland were treated with fire between March 15 and April 12. KDHE said roughly 2.5 million acres are burned annually.

The reporting time period includes 21 counties in Kansas and Oklahoma.

KDHE said burns from April 8-9 caused six air quality exceedances across parts of Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. There were no air quality exceedances due to burns last year.

acres burned county flint hills

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Matt. Typos or errors, report them HERE.

Burning sky lantern lands on Oklahoma man’s home

sky lantern
Screengrab from Fox61 video below.

As a man in Moore, Oklahoma pulled into his driveway he saw a burning sky lantern on the roof of his house. He was able to get it off the roof before the house caught fire, but was not pleased someone’s irresponsible act almost destroyed his home.

These dangerous devices use burning material to loft a small paper or plastic hot air balloon into the air. The perpetrator has no control over where it lands. Usually the fire goes out before it hits the ground, but not always. Sometimes the envelope catches fire while in flight. Numerous fires have been started by sky lanterns. Even if they don’t ignite a fire, they leave litter on the ground. Metal parts have been picked up by hay balers causing serious problems when fed to livestock. They are banned in most U.S. states and many countries.