"I loaded the kids up, grabbed my dogs, and it didn't even look like I had time to load the livestock, so I just got out of there," said Bo Ireland, who lives a few miles from where the Noble-area fire started. "It looked to me that, if the wind shifted even a little bit, I would be in the path of that fire. It was just too close."
There were no immediate reports of injuries or livestock losses.
Dayle Bishop said he may not have made it out of his home had a woman not knocked on his door and woken him up. Standing in a convenience store parking lot about 2 miles away from his home, he was pessimistic about its chances.
"I know it's gone," said Bishop, who works nights as a nurse. "Didn't even have time to get anything out." But he noted, "it's just stuff."
Charles Wright was with his daughter, Christina, along with their cat, at a makeshift evacuation center doubling as a staging area for fire engines, ambulances and other emergency equipment. He said law enforcement ordered them to leave their home in Norman.
"Praying for miracles. Praying for the best, that's all we can do," said Wright, who managed to pack some clothes, jewelry and legal papers before fleeing.
Ruth Hood splashed water onto two Chihuahua puppies that she grabbed along with several other animals and her children, and left as flames burned in her neighbor's yard. She said she couldn't be sure her home would survive.
"No guarantee," said Hood.
With the ongoing drought, high temperatures and gusty winds, it took little for fires to begin and spread – and there was little crews could do to fight them.
"It's difficult for the firefighters to get into the area because it's heavily wooded on either side of the smaller roads. When the winds are blowing 25 mph it just blows the embers and fireballs across the roads as if they weren't even there," said Jerry Lojka with the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management.
On Friday, the temperature in Norman hit 113F, and winds were gusting at 24 mph. "I can tell you the temperatures and the wind are not helping the situation at all," said Meghan McCormick, a spokeswoman for the Cleveland County Sheriff's office.
Russell Moore, 53, who lives in the Noble area, said he was outside in his yard when a sheriff's deputy drove down the road and told people to leave. He and his son went to a shelter set up at Noble City Hall.
"About all we saw was smoke and a little bit of ash raining down from the sky," said Moore. "Everybody was piling into their vehicles and leaving as we were."
Lojka said helicopters were helping ground crews with a fire near Mannford and Drumright in Creek County. Helicopters from the National Guard and the Bureau of Indian Affairs were fighting a fire in Creek County.
The state was monitoring 11 fires by Friday afternoon. Governor Mary Fallin announced a statewide burn ban as the fire danger heightened. She previously had announced a state of emergency for all 77 counties due to the extreme drought.
Intellpuke: You can read this Associated Press article in context here: www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/aug/04/wildfires-oklahoma-temperatures-113f