Residents Flee As Wildfire Burns Homes Near Cleveland, Oklahoma

Residents Flee As Wildfire Burns Homes Near Cleveland, Oklahoma

10 April 2011

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USA — A Large wildfire south of Cleveland has burned at least four homes and prompted several residents to evacuate, say Pawnee County Sheriff Deputies.

Residents were finally allowed back into their homes later in the evening.

The fire was burning in a heavily wooded area near Norton Road and Highway 64. Crews Started on the fire around 3 p.m. Saturday.

The flames quickly spread as strong winds picked up later in the afternoon. Air National Guard helicopters were then called in to dump water on the fire that has burned 1,000 acres so far.

Homeowners were told several more homes may have burned down. They were afraid to go home and see what is–or isn’t–left.

“We’re just all hoping each other’s homes are fine, our animals are fine, our people are fine. Everybody’s evacuated out. There’s not anybody left in there. We just want to know if our homes are there,” said Cleveland homeowner Connie Gilley.

Homeowners tell News On 6 about everyone in the area owns a propane or gas tank, and they’ve heard several pops Saturday afternoon.

“We saw huge flames. Just people panicking. It seems like at first nobody knew what was going on,” said Cleveland homeowner David Moore.

“I saw the flames from my bedroom window while packing after an officer stopped and told us to get out,” said a Cleveland resident.

Crews were doing some back burns trying to box in the fire. Deputies were concerned about the winds but crews had the fire contained by Saturday evening.

One firefighter did get treated for smoke inhalation but he’s back at work.

Red Cross set up a shelter for displaced residents at the Western Heights Baptist Church, 200 N. Gilbert Avenue in Cleveland. On Sunday morning, the Tulsa Red Cross canteen operation for emergency responders fighting wildfires near Cleveland has been suspended due to lack of need.

The Red Cross remains ready to respond should conditions warrant, according to spokesperson Donita Quesnel.

Crews from 14 area fire departments were assisting in the fire fighting efforts.

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