Wildfire prompts evacuations in NW Oklahoma; smoke affecting visibility statewide

Evacuations have been ordered in northwestern Oklahoma after a wildfire doubled in size Tuesday and crossed into the state from the Texas panhandle. Strong winds, dry grass and unseasonably warm highs fueled the blaze, the Associated Press reports.

The largest blaze, known as the Smokehouse Creek Fire, closed highways and remained 0% contained as of Tuesday afternoon, according to the Forest Service. Oklahomans should expect brief rapid drops of visibility Tuesday night, the National Weather Service reported.

A handful of wildfires were reported across Oklahoma over the past few days amid red flag warnings and fire weather watches in areas of the state.

What's a 'red flag warning'? What's a 'fire weather watch'? Here's what to know

Wildfires in Oklahoma map

On Monday, several wildfires were reported:

  • Latimer County: 75% contained, human-caused, $1,800 estimated cost

  • Harper Country: 40% contained, undetermined cause, $94,326 estimated cost

  • Woods County: 50% contained, human-caused, $35,749 estimated cost

  • Okfuskee County: percent contained unknown, undetermined cause, unknown cost

  • Pontotoc County: percent contained unknown, undetermined cause, unknown cost

Red flag warning issued for large portion of Oklahoma

The National Weather Center Norman issued a red flag warning across for a large portion of the state, lasting from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday.

According to NWS Norman, a "red flag warning" is issued when the forecast is likely to have conditions favorable for the ignition and spread of wildfires. The warnings don't mean a wildfire is ongoing, but that conditions are highly favorable.

A fire weather watch was also issued for much of Oklahoma, with the entire Oklahoma City metro being either critical or near-critical.

"fire weather watch" is issued when upcoming weather conditions could result in wildland fire occurrence or extreme fire behavior. It means fire weather conditions are possible, but not imminent or occurring.

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Oklahoma wildfires: Rapidly expanding fire prompts evacuations