STILLWATER, Okla. — Emergency responders closed roads and evacuated 50 people from their homes as wildland fires fueled by months of hot temperatures and too little rain swept through eastern Stillwater Monday.
The call came in around 2 p.m. that fires were popping up along State Highway 51 east of Stillwater. By the time some firefighters were released to return to their area departments, some 600 acres had burned. Along with it, several mobile homes, barns, some frame houses, outbuildings and pastures burned.
The fires may have been sparked by a car’s hot exhaust pipes when the car pulled off the road. However, no official cause of the fire was released Monday evening.
“I know that three vacant mobile homes were burned,” said Fire Marshal Trent Hawkins. “Probably several outbuildings.”
Hawkins said no one was injured in the fires that he knew of by Monday evening. He said a Payne County sheriff’s deputy was transported to the hospital, but did not say for what reason. Earlier in the day, an emergency responder manning a roadblock to keep people out of the fire area reported that a car ran the roadblock and hit his knee.
Firefighters from throughout the area responded to the blaze, including units from Stillwater, Glencoe, Ingalls, Pawnee, Coyle, Sumner, Morrison, Rock Township, Bethany, Guthrie and Red Rock.
Hawkins said that approximately 40 agencies from the area were involved.
He said U.S. Forestry Service helicopters dropped water on flames near Fairgrounds Road.
Monday’s temperatures soared to 109 degrees with 20 mph wind gusts.
Gov. Mary Fallin declared a state of emergency for all 77 counties in the state because of the drought and the National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory.
As firefighters struggled in triple-digit heat to suppress the fire and save structures, residents scrambled to check on property, pets and loved ones. Several people with horse trailers were called in to rescue horses at east Stillwater stables feared to be in the line of fire.