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Drought Conditions Hit Oklahoma (Jul 11, 2012)

TULSA, Okla. (AP) - As extreme drought and scorching heat creep back into the Southern Plains, ranchers and state foresters fear a repeat of last summer's tinderbox conditions that turned pastures into wasteland, sparked hundreds of wildfires and ravaged countless acres of crops.

The region is emerging from a blistering June where temperatures reached 112 degrees in the Oklahoma towns of Buffalo and Freedom and 106 degrees in Harrison and Russellville in Arkansas.

The U.S. Drought Monitor also moved parts of Arkansas from "severe" to "extreme" drought. In Oklahoma, which suffered through the hottest summer ever recorded in the U.S. last year, nearly half of the state is considered to be in a drought.

With the hottest two months still ahead and little prospect of rain, farmers and ranchers are bracing for the worst.

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