- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 21, 2017

LONGTOWN, Oklahoma (AP) - A small but stubborn fire that destroyed at least nine homes in eastern Oklahoma is 99 percent contained, an Oklahoma Forestry Services spokeswoman said Tuesday night.

More than 100 residents in Pittsburg and Haskell counties, about 80 miles southeast of Tulsa, forced to flee after the fire started Monday were able to return home earlier Tuesday.

Two evacuees and a firefighter who received minor injuries were treated and released, Pittsburg County Emergency Management Director Kevin Enloe said. The Red Cross is assisting those who lost their homes.

More than 250 firefighters worked to tamp down the blaze Monday, with low humidity and high winds working against them. Planes and helicopters were used to dump water from nearby Lake Eufaula were used to dump thousands of gallons of water.

Roger Ross, owner of The Pines bar, said five or six people gathered in his parking lot where they watched flames peaking over treetops through the fire’s haze.

“It got pretty wild for a while,” Ross said. “I’ve never seen so many fire departments. They came from all over.”

Forestry Services spokeswoman Michelle Finch-Walker said the fire has consumed about 1.5 square miles. Firefighters are using streams and roadways as barriers as much as possible, and heavy equipment to scrape up dry plant matter in spots. Cooler weather and higher humidity also kept the blaze from spreading as quickly, she said.

Authorities believe the fire started near two abandoned homes. Highway 9 Volunteer Fire Department chief Danny Choate told KOKI-TV in Tulsa that the fire may have been intentionally set.

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