Stillwater News Press

Local News

August 4, 2012

UPDATE: 2,000 acres burned, at least 10 houses destroyed in wildfire northeast of Stillwater

STILLWATER, Okla. — Area firefighters battled a massive wildfire into late Saturday night.

The wildfire roared from near the intersection of East Richmond and Union Roads and advanced northeast toward Glencoe before reversing direction in late afternoon.

Firefighters were battling fires east of Union Road and Airport Road at approximately 10 p.m. Saturday.

Law nforcement personnel evacuated residents along Union Road, Matilda Drive, Yost Road, VFW Road and Highway 108. Eventually, residents in the town of Glencoe were evacuated.

Stillwater Fire Marshal Trent Hawkins said at least 10 structures were destroyed by the fires.

“It was at least that many, and probably more,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins said there were no reported fire injuries, but two firefighters were treated for heat exhaustion.

Hawkins said many houses, structures, pastureland and trees were burned by fires fueled by hot, dry conditions and 20-mph winds. The temperature reached 107 degrees on Saturday, the 20th straight day in the 100s. It was still 91 degrees at nearly 10:30 p.m., with a 16-mph wind.

Wildfires have ravaged the state for days as the drought and heatwave continue. Rural eastern Stillwater was hard hit Monday and again Wednesday.

“This one is worse than the other ones we’ve had recently because we lost more structures,” Hawkins said Saturday.

Numerous fire departments responded to the fires, including firefighters from as far away as Enid. A helicopter dumped water and heavy equipment operators and those with water tank trucks rallied to help.

The breadth and abundance of fire calls spread emergency responders thin. Some firefighters offering aid for the Stillwater/Glencoe area fires had to pull back to go home and respond to fires being reported in their own districts.

Authorities closed roads to keep vehicle traffic away from the fires and the firefighters battling them. Traffic control became harder as night fell and evacuated residents tried to return to their homes and others turned out to gawk at the fires.

Michael Authement, director of operations for Lifenet, operated a rehabilitation area east of the command center on Richmond Road.

“When they come in we make sure they are hydrated,” Authement said. “We check their vital signs and really just try to cool them off.”

David Luckey of the Stillwater Fire Department had his vital signs checked at the Richmond Avenue area.

“I’m OK,” he said. “Just hot and tired.”

An air-conditioned Oklahoma State University bus was at the rehabilitation area so firefighters could escape the heat as they rotated off the front lines.

The American Red Cross opened evacuation centers in Cushing and Pawnee for fire victims near Drumright, Glencoe and Morrison.

The Drumright evacuation center is the Cushing Senior Center, 203. E. Cherry, American Red Cross Regional Director of Communications Ken Garcia said.

The Glencoe-Morrison evacuation center is at First United Methodist Church, 800 Sixth St., Pawnee.

A donation collection center was set up at Glencoe High School for anyone wanting to drop off water or sports drinks.

Payne County Sheriff Deputy Dennis Hughes said portions of VFW Road south of Glencoe were evacuated.

Hughes was standing outside his vehicle Saturday afternoon. He was turning away traffic that was trying to travel west.

A steady procession of vehicles drove east on Highway108 road to get out of the area.

The Stillwater NewsPress asked an unidentified motorist where he was going, and the driver replied, “I have no idea, but away from here, that’s for sure.”

Herman Allmendinger, the commander of the VFW Post, asked Hughes if he could check on the building, which is located about a quarter of a mile west of Highway 108.

“That’s my post. I’m worried about it,” Allmendinger said.

Hughes told Allmendinger that he would not be allowed down the road.

Stillwater resident David Stevens said he was driving south through Glencoe late Saturday afternoon when he spotted several people running into their houses gathering belongings.

“I would be doing the same thing,” said Stevens. “Can you blame them?”

Bryan and Sharon Petersen, residents in the 6500 block of Rose Road, about four miles south of Glencoe, were watering their land to keep fire away from their house and hay.

Firefighters also battled wildfires south of Cushing in Payne County and in Lincoln County near Highway 99. Farther east, a massive fire burned in Creek County, forcing evacuation of the towns of Mannford and Drumright.

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