UPDATE: WEA Emergency Evacuation Alert on February 27, 2024

Kay County Emergency Management - February 28, 2024 5:17 pm

Kay County, Oklahoma- On 02/27/2024 at or around 7:30pm local time, Newkirk Fire Department and Kay County Emergency Management was notified of a large wildland fire located in the vicinity of First Council Casino and Chilocco tribal lands north of Newkirk. Initial reports were also advising that part of the fire was immediately threatening one of the casinos. Our county Wildland Automatic Response “WAR” day was still activated, and this prompted a response that included fire department responses from: Blackwell FD, Dale Township FD, Kaw City FD, Kildare FD, Otoe-Missouria Tribal FD, Ponca City FD, and River Road FD. Additional resources were also called in from Ark City FD. Law enforcement assistance was promptly received from Kay County Sheriff’s Office, Cowley County Sheriff’s Office, Kaw Nation Tribal PD, Newkirk PD, Oklahoma Highway Patrol, and Otoe-Missouria Tribal PD. Emergency Management assistance was provided from Kay County Emergency Management, Kaw Nation Emergency Management, and Otoe-Missouria Emergency Management.

Upon initial arrival, emergency crews observed a significant fire line within the Chilloco tribal complex, positioned to the northwest of the casino properties along U.S. Highway 77. The fire’s extension, growth, and movement were exacerbated by gusty wind conditions exceeding 30mph. A substantial immediate threat was identified for 7 Clans and Native Lights casinos due to their proximity, the fire’s trajectory, and the concentration of population in the area. Consequently, an immediate decision was made to issue an emergency evacuation alert for the affected properties. The Kay County Emergency Management promptly contacted the Oklahoma State Emergency Management Emergency Operation Center to activate the alert. Presently, the Oklahoma OEM office holds the authority to issue alerts for this region. While Kay County has access to this system for local-level alerting, final paperwork is pending before we officially activate this system.

Last night’s Emergency Alert, disseminated via the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system utilizing the Integrated Public Alert & Warning System (IPAWS). The same system Amber Alerts are sent through. No sign up is required for this service. When an incident reaches the level requirement a WEA, the alert is sent, pings the closest cell tower to an incident, and will be received by cellular devices in the incident area. An occurrence known as “bleed-over” around cellular towers spanning up to 1 mile may result in devices receiving an alert by outside the immediate impact zone. To opt in or out of receiving alerts it is recommended to review and confirm the activation of emergency alert settings on their mobile devices. Additionally, ongoing discussions are underway to assess and enhance the effectiveness of alert messaging, aiming to refine the wording and language to ensure optimal clarity and minimize potential confusion in future emergency notifications.

In summary, we’re pleased to inform you that all fire incidents in the county yesterday were swiftly extinguished thanks to the prompt actions of our dedicated public safety professionals. Aside from minor damage to grass, brush, and trees, no injuries or significant damages were reported.

 

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