Five years ago this week, no matter where you were in eastern Oklahoma, at some point, you were within a few miles of a fire.
Unseasonably hot temperatures, low humidity and extremely strong winds — 50 mph in some parts of the state — fueled long, narrow wildfires that cropped up in the afternoon of Feb. 18, 2016 and persisted well into the night.
Mark Goeller, fire management chief with Oklahoma Forestry Services, said he hadn’t seen so many wildfires spread throughout the state at one time since the summer of 2011.
“This is the busiest day we’ve had in the last couple of years across the state,” he said.
Among the areas hardest hit by wildfires were Pawnee, Okmulgee and Okfuskee counties. Evacuations were conducted in multiple areas in those counties.
One of the biggest fires happened early in the afternoon near U.S. 412 in the Terlton area of Pawnee County.