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Oklahoma drought, heat lure grasshoppers and bake firefighters

SHARE Oklahoma drought, heat lure grasshoppers and bake firefighters

What heat and drought didn't take from Carolyn Hartman's farm, the grasshoppers are now claiming.

They've stripped the leaves from tomato, squash and pepper plants and moved on to the vegetables themselves. They've nibbled her rose bushes down to sticks and dine by droves on the family's hay pastures.Not much can be done to stop the insects as they descend on southern Oklahoma, experts say.

"Just pray for rain and hope we get good rain that greens up the vegetation," Miles Karner, entomologist at the Oklahoma State University Research and Extension center in Altus, said Monday.

The heat also spelled trouble firefighters in the woods and dry, rugged terrain of southeast Oklahoma.

"It's not just like 110 degrees outside. It's superheated," said volunteer Ed Reed from a rural department southwest of Broken Bow. "With our fire-fight-ing clothes on, we're all but boiling."

Pat McDowell, assistant director of the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture's forestry division, said 141 fires have burned 2,100 acres since July 6 in the state's far southeastern tip.

State and federal agencies are bolstering their fire crews in and around the Ouachita National Forest because of outbreaks blamed on arson and extraordinarily hot, dry weather.

Temperatures in northern Oklahoma eased a little Monday to the mid-80s, but nothing improved in the state's southern half or in Texas, where forecasters think the summer may become the hottest on record.