Grass fires burn in Wagoner County; evacuations ordered near Ochelata

Grass fires burn in Wagoner County; evacuations ordered near Ochelata

17 February 2014

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USA — Firefighters from numerous agencies fought large grass fires in Washington, Wagoner and Okmulgee counties on Monday afternoon.

A mobile home on 151 Street about a quarter mile east of 209th East Avenue near Coweta was damaged in a fire, as well as two barns. Residents of the mobile home had been evacuated and no one was hurt, said Wagoner County Emergency Management Director Heath Underwood.

Underwood said the fire is not out yet, but it has been contained. Some of the fire crews that responded to the fire have been released, but the remainder are still on the scene.

No cause has been determined yet.

A command center in Wagoner County has been set up at 141st and 209th streets with firefighters from Coweta, Broken Arrow, Tulsa, Stone Bluff, Porter, Tullahassee and other departments all on the scene, a Coweta dispatcher said.

Broken Arrow Assistant Fire Chief Phil Reid said about 600-700 acres were affected.

Reid said several residential structures were threatened by the fire, but no one had been evacuated.

The fire was near the Golf Club of Oklahoma, where an employee said maintenance workers have been watering down the property in case the fire moves toward them.

Broken Arrow firefighters also had four units on scene at a fire near Redbud and Madison streets, with a command center set up on Kenosha (71st) Street. The Tulsa Fire Department has also sent crews to that fire, which is still active.

Reid said no structures were involved in that fire.

No firefighters were injured in either fire near Broken Arrow and Coweta, Reid said. A Broken Arrow brush truck that had failed early in the day was repaired quickly by the department’s fleet maintenance workers and was sent out to the fires quickly.

“That helped out tremendously,” Reid said.

Near Ochelata, authorities evacuated homes.

The Ochelata fire was burning near the Washington-Osage county line about 35 miles north of Tulsa.

Osage County Undersheriff Lou Ann Brown said there have been some evacuations in Washington County near the fire but no evacuations in Osage County.

Live television pictures from a KOTV helicopter showed the fire burning near several homes and buildings in the area. Authorities in Washington County were not immediately available to provide details.

Several fires have also been reported in and around Okmulgee County, and the Henryetta Fire Department was working with three others to battle a grass fire near Schulter that was reported just before 2 p.m., dispatch confirmed.

“We can see (the fire) from town,” firefighter Joe Smallwood said. “There were some homes in the vicinity, but they were able to get it under control before it actually threatened any.”

No other structures are in danger from that fire, Smallwood said. Other area fire crews successfully managed a fire south of Henryetta, and there is an active grass fire east of the city, he said.

The Tulsa Chapter of the American Red Cross had dispatched teams to assisting firefighters at the Wagoner County fire by providing water and other drinks, said Brian Jensen, regional disaster program officer.

The Red Cross also was assisting a resident whose home was burned in that fire, Jensen said.

The National Weather Service had warned of a “high fire spread threat” on Monday following the passage of a cold front.

“Strong northwest winds will gust as high as 35 mph through early to mid-afternoon. … Afternoon humidities will fall into the 20 to 30 percent range, resulting in a high fire spread threat into the afternoon,” forecasters said.

Winds were forecast to diminish quickly in the late afternoon, forecasters said.


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