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In parched Oklahoma more evacuations as wildfire rages

On Sunday further evacuations in Oklahoma were necessary, as wildfires continue to grow and progress across the state. In one town nearly five dozen homes and buildings were destroyed.

By Tim TalleyAssociated Press / August 5, 2012

Victoria Landavazo holds her youngest child, Axel, 1, while wiping tears after arriving with other members of her family to see for the first time what the wildfire had done to their home, Saturday, in Luther, Okla.

Jim Beckel/AP

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Luther, Okla.

Several wildfires raging around the parched Oklahoma landscape prompted more evacuations on Sunday as emergency workers sought to shelter those forced out by flames that destroyed dozens of homes and threatened others in the drought-stricken region.

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One roaring fire near Luther, about 25 miles northeast of Oklahoma City, destroyed nearly five dozen homes and other buildings before firefighters gained a measure of control Saturday. Authorities said several state roads remained closed early Sunday because of drifting smoke or nearby fires.

Mike Donegan, a communications supervisor with the Oklahoma State Highway Patrol in the scorched region, said evacuations continued overnight. He had no immediate details on the numbers forced from their homes but said officers went door to door in some communities, getting people to leave.

He said he saw thick smoke from a distance of about 50 miles from one of the fires as he drove into work.

"When I came in today ... we got ash falling even where I live. I thought it was raining at first. The smoke was thick," Donegan told The Associated Press by phone.

The Luther fire was one of at least 10 burning Saturday in Oklahoma, where a severe drought has settled on the countryside in a summer in which temperatures have topped 110 degrees in spots.

The fires include a large one in Creek County, in northeastern Oklahoma, that officials said had claimed about 78 square miles, and another about 35 miles to the west in Payne County.

Emergency management officials ordered residents of Mannford, in Creek County; Glencoe, in Payne County; Drumright, in Lincoln County; Oak Grove, in Pawnee County; and Quinton, in Pittsburg County, to leave their homes, according to Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management spokeswoman Keli Cain.

Cain said Saturday that no serious injuries had been reported.

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