With four more wildfires occurring Sunday between noon and 4 p.m. and one between midnight and 3 a.m. Saturday, firefighters were kept busy trying to bring everything under control.

The fires occurred because of drought conditions and brought the total number to 28 occurring since the first of the year, according to Woodward Fire Chief Steve Day.

“Last year at this time we had 18,” Day said. “It was dry last year. It’s even dryer this year.”

Matt Lehenbauer, county and city emergency management director said he was concerned because the cost of fighting the fires has now reached more than $100,000.

“That includes fire departments and emergency funding,” Lehenbauer said of the expenses. “My budget is $130,000 total. We’ve already burned through most of it.”

While Lehenbauer’s budget is funded by the city and grants, the volunteer fire departments that have to assist in fighting these fires rely on contributions raised by pancake breakfasts and donations.

“The volunteer fire departments get a little bit of grant funding, but they depend on fundraisers more than anything else,” Lehenbauer said.

Lehenbauer said anyone who wanted to donate dollars to a volunteer fire department could contact him through the city of Woodward at (580) 256-2280.

Regarding the fires, the one that occurred Saturday morning was eight miles north of Woodward and three miles east.

Of the four that occurred Sunday, one was two-and-a-half miles southwest of Sharon and consumed 650 acres. The second fire occurred eight miles west of Sharon and involved a house, Lehenbauer said.

Firefighters were able to extinguish the flames in that fire before the house was destroyed, he said. The third fire occurred at US Highway 270 and SH 34 and involved 250 acres. There also was a two-acre fire a mile northwest of Fort Supply.

One of the firefighters was hospitalized Sunday for exhaustion and smoke inhalation, Lehenbauer said.

In an effort to prevent more fires from occurring, the Woodward County Commission on Monday issued another burn ban for the next seven days, with three exceptions: Use of equipment related to road construction projects; welding/cutting and torch/grinding activities; and LPG and charcoal-fired cooking outside in a grilling receptacle.

Outdoor campfires and bon fires are prohibited.

At the County Commission meeting Monday, Lehenbauer told commissioners the dry conditions were expected to continue.

“There’s no rain in the forecast this week,” he said.


Also from the county commission:

The county approved an application for a 2009 Emergency Shelter Grant for Northwest Domestic Crisis Services, which is seeking $24,940 from the Department of Commerce.

Dollars from the grant would be matched with state funds to pay for salaries and other expenses.

The county also:

•Approved a resolution to dispose of equipment for the county assessor’s department.

•Approved a resolution to dispose of equipment for the county health department.

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