At the request of Governor Mary Fallin, Lieutenant Governor Todd Lamb today (Friday, June 24) declared a State of Emergency for 33 Oklahoma counties due to extreme or exceptional drought conditions and the associated wildfires, which threaten the lives and property of the people in the area designated in western Oklahoma.
Lamb’s declaration came just two hours after Oklahoma Forestry Services sent CapitolBeatOK and other news organizations an alert specifying the wildfire danger in western Oklahoma is extremely high.
Counties included in the State of Emergency are: Alfalfa, Beaver, Beckham, Blaine, Caddo, Canadian, Carter, Cimarron, Comanche, Cotton, Custer, Dewey, Ellis, Garfield, Garvin, Grady, Grant, Greer, Harmon, Harper, Jackson, Jefferson, Kingfisher, Kiowa, Love, Major, Roger Mills, Stephens, Texas, Tillman, Washita, Woods and Woodward.
This declaration may be amended to include additional counties as conditions warrant.
“These counties have struggled to see relief from our current drought, and with Oklahoma’s high winds, conditions have unfortunately been ideal for devastating wildfires,” said Lt. Governor Lamb. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families going through this difficult time. Declaring this emergency will provide aid to these struggling Oklahomans as they prepare to rebuild and restore what was lost.”
Already more than 10 fires have been reported throughout the state causing evacuations in some areas. Continuing drought conditions will likely cause additional fires in the following weeks.
This Executive Order marks a first step toward seeking federal assistance should it be necessary.
The order come sin keeping with provisions of the Oklahoma Emergency Management Act of 2003. As a result of Lamb’s order, state agencies “make make necessary emergency acquisitions to fulfill the purposes of this proclamation without regard to limitations or bidding requirements on such acquisitions.”
Lamb’s order has triggered the State Emergency Operations Plan, which commits “to the reasonable extent necessary” resources to combat the fires in the western counties of the state.
Note: Senior Editor Patrick B. McGuigan of The City Sentinel contributed to this report.