More than a dozen wildfires fueled by drought conditions and wind have burned 52,000 acres in Oklahoma, as some residents have evacuated while authorities try to stop the blazes with little help from Mother Nature.
Residents in Creek County were still being evacuated as of Sunday morning, while others from Luther and Slaughterville were allowed to return to their homes Saturday evening, according to UPI.
As many as 40 homes were destroyed throughout the state while several highways and roads were also closed, according to a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management. Mother Nature has not helped in the least, with temperatures expected to reach a balmy 99 degrees Sunday.
Fires have destroyed about 25 structures and 7,800 acres in Cleveland County, officials told CNN. Gov. Mary Fallin headed northeast of Oklahoma City to Luther, were at least 56 buildings were burned down in a 2,600-acre fire. She declared a state of emergency for at least 77 counties.
Fire Perimeter Has Been Established: Emergency Management Director
Hope may be on the horizon though, as the fires were 80 percent contained as of Saturday, according to Oklahoma County Emergency Management Director David Barnes.
"It's not an open, forward-progressing fire by any means; a perimeter has been established. But there are several areas that have deep-setting fire because of brush and we're having to cut access through that using bulldozers," he said.
Still, fighting the fires has become a game of whack-a-mole for responders, according to Jerry Loyka, a spokesman for the state department of emergency management.
"This is a repeat of yesterday," Lojka told CNN. "The fires that started to come under control last night are back to full fire."
The situation is being exacerbated by drought conditions in Oklahoma that have hit a substantial chunk of the rest of the nation. Rainfall accumulations are below the 2-year average, according to CNN, with most of the deficit occurring during the summer. It has led officials to suggest that residents develop an evacuation plan, should the fires approach their homes.
Conditions are so fragile, and fires so easy to start, they suggested limiting outdoor cooking of any kind, as well as not driving cars over grass.
"Once the fire gets into a highly vegetative area with a lot of trees, it will create its own wind," Lojka said.
The largest blaze, or at least biggest threat, remains in Creek County, according to officials. There, 30-mile-per-hour winds and extreme temperatures have combined to make residents and firefighters' lives difficult. Thousands of residents were moved from their homes as the fire in the county spread quickly.
Those who returned home were shocked to find the charred remains of their former lives.
"It's all gone. All of our family pictures, everything was there," Victoria Landavazo, a resident who just returned home, told NBC.