USA — A massive, swift-moving grass fire destroyed several homes and forced evacuations of more than 20 other residences as it traveled about two miles in the Shawnee Twin Lakes area Friday afternoon. Shawnee firefighters fought the massive blaze with help from several other fire departments, including Little Axe, Oklahoma City, McLoud, Tecumseh, Pink, Bethel Acres and Wanette. Shawnee/Pottawatomie County Emergency Management Technician Jennifer Dawson said residents were evacuated from homes located between Hardesty and Lake Road and between Patterson and Stevens, with residents finding safety at the Bethel Acres Fire Station No. 2. Chuck Kaser, who lives north of the Twin Lakes and was less than one mile from an area of heavy fire, was preparing to evacuate Friday afternoon. Its really bad theres huge clouds of smoke, he said. Kaser said he was watering down his yard, readying a fifth-wheel camper and rounding up the family pets in case they needed to evacuate. Hours later, Kaser was happy to report they didnt need to leave and everything was OK after fire crews got the blaze under control. It was estimated that as many as 35 people were evacuated from their homes during the afternoon. Pottawatomie County sheriffs deputies worked with Shawnee police to notify residents to evacuate as requested by fire personnel. Preliminary reports indicated three, and possibly four, homes were lost to the blaze, along with about 12 outbuildings. It also was estimated by emergency managers that more than 300 acres burned in that fire, with crews manning at least 24 fire apparatus units. Shawnee Fire Department Chief Jimmy Gibson said the fire spread for two miles in the sections from Hardesty to Lake Road and between Patterson and Stevens Road, although the fire did jump west of Patterson Road on several occasions. Crews worked to save many homes and structures as the fire quickly spread out of control. They did a great job of saving some structures, Gibson said about the cooperative efforts of fire crews. Shawnee Fire Capt. Andy Starkey served as incident commander, Gibson said, and cause of the fire is undetermined. A request was made for a helicopter to conduct a fire drop to help contain the blaze, but the fire was under control when a chopper was available. The American Red Cross provided supplies for fire crews and assisted those affected by the fires. Bill Savage, a resident of that area, wasnt too close to the blaze, but he was keeping a close eye on it. He said he could tell buildings were burning in some areas and watched as the fire burned right up to the lakes edge across from him. We were concerned it was going to jump the lake, Savage said. When theres a fire like that, theres not a lot you can do. He said residents of the area had good help from both law enforcement and the fire departments. Several law enforcement officers helped provide traffic control and many roadways were shut down for safety. While the warm temperatures and high winds provided a perfect day for wildfires to flare, Dawson said people need to remember that a burn ban remains in effect and extreme caution should be taken every day, adding there is a reason for the burn ban. While people can keep the grass around their homes cut short, she suggests people remember to check gutters for leaves and pine needles. Thats fuel waiting for that ember to come, she said. Take extra steps to help protect your property. In addition to this massive blaze, there were numerous other grass fires reported throughout the Pottawatomie County area Friday, including fires in the Tecumseh and Brooksville areas. As crews battled the blaze near the Twin Lakes, one of the other grass fires was reported at the Whataburger drive-thru area, with that blaze believed to be sparked by a customer discarding a cigarette, Gibson said. With dry conditions as they area, Its hard for me to fathom people being that careless, the chief said, adding its a critical time for everyone to exercise extreme caution. A fire starts and spreads so easily, he said.