Wildfire damages top $1.1 million in Woodward Co.

Wildfire damages top $1.1 million in Woodward Co.

17 March 2015

published by www.enidnews.com

USA– A massive fire near Woodward that destroyed or damaged seven occupied homes has caused an estimated $1.1 million damage.

Woodward Emergency Manager Matt Lehenbauer reported the initial damage estimate from the fire that raged for nearly two days north of Woodward on Tuesday.

“That estimate does not count cattle, fencing or other surface damage,” he said.

Hay losses are about $174,000, and vehicles and trailers make up about $75,000 of the damage, Lehenbauer said.

The total figure also includes 25 structures damaged and destroyed in the blaze. Of those, seven were homes people lived in, he said.

That includes families like Mary L. Hubert, whose home, just off East Country Road 27, was destroyed in the blaze, said Hubert’s boyfriend, Ed Siemsen.

Siemsen said Hubert’s home was a total loss, as was the home of Hubert’s daughter, Jony McLaren, and granddaughter, Thora Fox.

“Her daughter’s home was right there on the same place next to Mary’s,” Siemsen said.

None of the family were injured in the blaze.

Hubert and her children and grandchildren are staying at Northwest Inn, Siemsen said.

“Right now, we don’t know what’s next,” Siemsen said.

He said those who wish to make contact or want to help Hubert can contact her through him at 1624 22nd St. in Woodward.

All told, the fire burned 22,300 acres in Woodward County over the course of two days and was 70 percent contained by late Tuesday afternoon.

According to Lehenbauer, damage estimates may change as the days pass and more is discovered.

The cause of the fire is under investigation by Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Lehenbauer said.

The fire started Monday afternoon near Boiling Springs State Park and spread quickly to the northeast fueled by strong south winds, dry ground and plenty of brush and trees.

Firefighters worked through the night on Monday in an attempt to get a handle on the blaze.

More than 150 firefighters from Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas worked through the night on Monday. Tuesday morning, two divisions of 100 firefighters were formed to tackle the fire.

“Right now, we are really working hard with heavy equipment building fire breaks, knocking out trees that are still burning. Fire trucks basically providing support to heavy equipment while we work at containing this by building large fire breaks around it,” Lehenbauer said on Tuesday afternoon.

By evening, firefighters were hitting hot sports around the fire. Local oil field companies assisted by providing tankers loaded with water as the fire was totally in a rural area where water sources are hard to find.

On Monday, several people had to be evacuated, and even a large stretch of Oklahoma 50 between Mooreland and Freedom was closed overnight.

Lehenbauer said a change in temperature and the wind laying down for a brief time late Monday night gave firefighters a chance to begin to gain control. But a shift back to gusting winds from the north at about 2 a.m. Monday robbed them of some of those gains.

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