Television show offers information about how to recover from a wildfire

A chain dragging down the highway. A cigarette butt tossed out the window. A spark from a grill.

Any of these simple ignition sources mixed with Oklahoma’s landscape and climate this time of year is a recipe for wildfire. It is wildfire season throughout the state and Oklahomans do not need to think far back to remember what destruction can come with an out-of-control fire.

More than 330,000 acres burned in Beaver, Harper and Woodward counties during the March 7 wildfires just last year. Affecting northwestern Oklahoma and continuing on into parts of southwestern Kansas. Lives were lost, along with homes, barns, equipment and thousands of head of livestock.

Just a year earlier, the Anderson Creek fire in Woods County ripped through more than 360,000 acres and left over 600 cattle carcasses in its wake.

Regardless of whether property owners have taken wildfire precautions, like prescribed burning, when a fire gets going and smoke is visible on the horizon, nerves set in and emergency plans may go awry.

Property owners are left with some tough decisions and various agencies, whether it be state or local, are called to action. To shed some light on dangerous weather conditions, those in-the-moment decisions and get a personal narrative of operations, Oklahoma State University’s agriculture television show, SUNUP, headed out to the Panhandle to speak with those impacted by the fires of years past.

“We have aired several stories on the importance of prescribed burning and using fire breaks in the past, but we really wanted to get ahead of the curve coming into wildfire season this year,” said Dave Deken, SUNUP senior producer. “We partnered with several Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service county offices, Oklahoma Forestry Services and the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management to put together an entire show on wildfires.”

The collaborative effort between all agencies is designed to let all Oklahomans know of the resources available to them before, during and after emergency situations.

“Our two state agencies, Cooperative Extension and the Ag Experiment Station, are pleased to be part of a team who is ready to help our fellow Oklahomans in times of need,” said Tom Coon, vice president of OSU’s Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. “We’re all in this together. It’s the Oklahoma Standard.”

SUNUP traveled throughout the state to talk about what to do with livestock as a fire is approaching, what to expect from Extension offices, local emergency responders and fire departments, as well as answer many post-event insurance questions. Viewers also will see what cleanup may look like and be reminded of the regrowth that takes place following a fire.

“No one likes the thought of wildfires, but they are a reality where we live,” Deken said. “We hope this show resonates with Oklahomans and helps them start with a plan whenever another emergency happens.”

SUNUP airs on OETA at 7:30 a.m. on Saturdays and 6 a.m. on Sundays. Also, shows and segments are always available online at