A Night of Wildfires Forces Evacuations

1-1-06 – The Nocona Police Department has issued an evacuation for all residents in Nocona, Texas and Stoneburg, Texas. Grassfires in Montague County are out of control and threaten homes in those areas. Residents are asked to head towards St. Jo, Bowie and Lake Forest.

The fires started in Clay County, but have destroyed structures in Ringgold, Texas.

The tiny town of Ringgold, Texas was virtually leveled. Firefighters are trying to save cities to the east. Highway 82 at FM 59 – west of St. Jo is closed as workers evacuate residents by the bus-load. Patients at the Nocona hospital and two nursing homes were also evacuated Sunday evening.

Shelters have been set up at churches and the high school in St. Jo. There is no word yet on when residents will be allowed back into their homes.

Fire departments are concentrating their efforts on an area north of Nocona between Highway 82 and Highway 103.

The Montague County Sheriff’s Office says they have no reports of major injuries.

Three thousand people live in Nocona.

A grass fire in northeast Oklahoma City that destroyed several homes and forced the evacuation of dozens of residents is now mostly under control. Fire Major Brian Stanaland says one man suffered minor smoke inhalation after refusing to evacuate, but wasn't seriously injured.

Meanwhile, dozens of fires continue to burn tonight across Oklahoma, fueled by high winds and extremely dry conditions. Emergency officials say fires were burning tonight near Guthrie, Cimarron City, Stigler, Wainwright, Okay, Slick, Shamrock, Welty and Cashion.

The blaze near Guthrie threatened several homes and forced the closure of several highways in the area.

Governor Brad Henry says firefighting crews from other states already are on the ground in Oklahoma helping firefighters battle the wildfires.

Crews from Alabama and Tennessee already arrived in Oklahoma with men and equipment. Additional support is expected to arrive tonight from North Carolina and Florida.

At least 20 grass fires sprang today in the Texas Panhandle -- and northern and western parts of the state.

The National Weather Service says the blazes were spreading quickly because of high winds from 24 to 50 miles per hour and
temperatures in the high 70s and low 80s.

The Texas Forest Service says helicopters with the Texas Air National Guard are helping firefighters' battle a 22 thousand, 400 acre blaze that threatens up to 200 Eastland County homes.

Fires are also being reported in Wise, Clay and Montague counties in northern Texas, threatening the city of Ringgold.

A fire also was burning along the New Mexico-Texas state line east of Tatum, New Mexico. Tatum is a village with about 700 people about 70 miles east of Roswell.

Another fire in Sterling County northwest of San Angelo had spread to 18 hundred acres by this afternoon.

At least five homes burned in Mineral Wells, west of Fort Worth, and residents were evacuated.