Wildfires burning in western Oklahoma can be seen from space

Wildfires burning in western Oklahoma can be seen from space

As of 5 p.m. Wednesday, the Rhea fire, affecting Blaine, Custer, Dewey and Woodward counties, covered more than 283,000 acres - a 34,000-acre increase from Tuesday, according to the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.

As The Oklahoman reports, the fires this week scorched an area amounting to nearly 450 square miles, or nearly 285,000 acres.

The fire weather danger is expected to decrease starting Saturday.

Wildland vegetation across western Oklahoma remains critically dry.

The Laverne Fire in Beaver and Harper counties has burned 100 acres and is 80 percent contained, and the Hooker Fire in Texas County has burned 179 acres but is 100 percent contained. Highways were closed and communities evacuated, and at least two people lost their lives-a woman in Dewey County who perished in her auto, and a 61-year-old man who died from injures suffered in a blaze near Leedey. Two fires a few miles apart in the Cibola National Forest have so far burned about 20 square miles (51.8 sq. kilometers). The complex of fires is 45 percent contained, according to KOKH.

Temperatures were expected in the upper 60s with wind gusts up to 32 miles per hour Friday.

"We are surviving, exhausted of the fire, stressing". Looking ahead this week, a new disturbance moving out of the Rockies midweek may bring additional helpful rains, but also raises the risk for lightning, which may in turn spark new fires over the drought-stricken region.

As of Wednesday, a burn ban was still in place for a large portion of the state.

At least 23 homes were destroyed by a blaze that started Tuesday between Colorado Springs and Pueblo, El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder told the Associated Press.

Crews were planning to battle the fire overnight, according to the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management. Pastures have been demolished by the fires, creating an urgent need for hay to feed the surviving cattle.