The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

National and world

May 4, 2014

Logan Co. residents watch, protect property from blaze

ENID, Okla. — Paul Barber and Tabitha Diamond were on their way home from the Rose Rock Music Festival in Noble when they saw smoke fearfully near their home.

They live near the East Camp Drive-North Midwest Boulevard intersection in Logan County, dangerously close to the smoke plume blowing from south to north. The closer they got the more they were worried.

"We got home, got the dogs safe, prepped the car in case we had to leave," Barber said. "Fortunately we did not have to. It kept going straight north instead of going northeast on us."

Diamond said others were less fortunate, referring to property owners in the area who lost their homes. Fire officials say they do not have a complete count of property damage yet, but are reporting six homes destroyed by the Sunday afternoon wildfire. The fire started sometime after 4 p.m. and continues to blaze through the evening.

The fire allegedly began from a spark from a controlled burn and it quickly blossomed into a raging wildfire that engulfed hundreds of acres of wooded property. There is no burn ban currently in place in Logan County, but the National Weather Service in Norman is forecasting a high chance of wildfires through the week due to persistent dry conditions.

Diamond said she had never seen anything this big, this close before.

"I've never seen anything get out of control, but this amazed me," Diamond said. "And watching it destroy people's property is a feeling you can't describe because you know those people have lost their homes, lost everything that belongs to them."

Diamond said the area is a community and many residents are relatives.

Diamond said their landlord drove through the smoke to check on his house and family, who live next door, and his vehicle began burning. Diamond said by the time he got out and started walking down the road it was burning.

Trees nearby went up in flames as one of their neighbors was busy doing what he could to protect his property. Barber said they had no electricity or running water. They were wondering about shelter.

Sunday evening, American Red Cross Oklahoma volunteers were responding to the reported 300- to 500-acre wildfire, and reported at least one home on fire in Logan County, regional spokesman Ken Garcia said. The Red Cross was also responding to fires in the vicinity of Altus and Stillwater, Garcia said. A wildfire also ranged across a reported 11-mile long area east of Mooreland Sunday afternoon in Woodward County.

Information on shelters was not immediately available.

Highs in the 90s and brisk winds fueled the fires across the state Sunday.

Mark Schlachtenhaufen writes for The Edmond Sun.

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