Wildfires fueled by extremely dry conditions and strong winds destroyed dozens of homes in Oklahoma City and North Texas on Tuesday and forced hundreds of residents to evacuate.
Officials did not yet know what started the blazes, but a summer heat wave and drought in Oklahoma and Texas have left the ground parched and vegetation dry.
"We're in severe drought conditions, so just the tiniest little spark can start a wildfire," Texas Forest Service spokeswoman April Saginor said.
In Oklahoma City, bursts of flame rose amid thick black smoke as oil-packed cedar trees ignited, giving gawkers a stunning view even from blocks away. Utility poles lit up like matchsticks, and power was out to more than 7,000 homes and businesses.
The fire destroyed 10 to 12 homes and consumed 1,500 acres in a sparsely populated and heavily wooded section of the city, fire department spokesman Mark Woodard said. Several hundred homes were evacuated, according to Red Cross spokesman Rust Surette.