USA — At least one Rogers County firefighter was injured during a long day of grass fires Saturday as high winds, dead grass, and hay bales meant plenty of fuel to keep fires on the move for hours.
A Tri District firefighter suffered second and third degree burns on his hands, but is doing fine now, said Rogers County Emergency Management Director Bob Anderson who also serves as volunteer fire chief of Tri District.
Anderson said snow just over a week ago simply “freeze dried everything.”
“It wasn’t enough precipitation to soak into the ground,” said Anderson.
Saturday was a game of chase for local firefighters as they struggled to keep up with an epidemic of grass fires that started in the morning and continued throughout the day.
The first fire in Tri District started that morning when a man brush hogging on 4215 Road east off Hwy 20 hit a rock that sparked the blaze.
Anderson said when the conditions are this volatile, it doesn’t take much to light a flame.
“I had two fires in my district,” said Anderson. “The one at Pepperridge addition is where a firefighter got his hands burnt. That was somebody burning brush and it got away from them. About 15 houses were in danger. Probably the only thing that saved them was they were brick. We called Tiawah and Foyil over to help us on that one. That was our second fire.”
Northwest had a working fire, he said.
“We had about 40 acres burnt,” said Northwest Fire Chief David Puckett.
“Every fire department in Rogers County was on,” said Anderson. “We had four fires going at one time.”
Perhaps the largest in terms of acreage was a fire in the Inola/Tiawah area. That one started just north of Hwy 412 and consumed acres all to way to Hwy 88 across from Willeo Baptist Church.
“It was over 2,000 acres total burned,” said Anderson. “We had everybody’s tankers. Every fire department in Rogers County was out assisting on that one or helping Northwest.”
Fires in Foyil were a result of people attempting control burns.
“We had three fires going on at the same time in our district,” Foyil Fire Chief Randy Atchley said. “They all started from people burning on a windy day. Controlled burns that got out of control. No homes ore other structures were lost or damaged during our fires.”
Chelsea had a small couple of fires then assisted other departments.
“We only had a couple in our area,” said Chelsea Fire Chief Matt Fraley.
Anderson said over a hundred fire fighters worked on the Inola/Tiawah fire.
“We had flames six to 10 feet up on some of that out there,” said Anderson. “It was hard to control because of the fuel on the ground and the wind. Everyone did a good job. We even had Mayes County Task Force, (Langley, Disney, and Adair).”
Rolling Hills and Oak Grove were among those who rolled out to help Inola. When the call came in on that fire, Inola had been assisting them in the Catoosa area.