Green Country Firefighters Lend Hand In Northwest Oklahoma Fires

Wednesday, April 18th 2018, 10:07 pm
By: Amy Slanchik

Some volunteer firefighters in Osage County are leaving their departments to help fight the historic fires in the western part of the state, even though their own county is under a burn ban. 

4/18/2018 Related Story: Largest Wildfire In Oklahoma Spreads Northeast

Nine firefighters left the town of Fairfax this week.

In McCord, near Ponca City, another group of firefighters left Wednesday.

After a nearly three hour drive, the firefighters will get some rest, then start fighting the flames early in the morning. 

As volunteers prepare for their trip, packing extra tires and equipment, they also take time to hug family goodbye, at least for the next few days.

"It's pretty hard," said Osage Cove Fire Department Chief Willy Hargraves. 

Hargraves is going along with three other men with his department. 

"I got a couple of guys they actually took their personal vacation time so that way they could go down here and help," Hargraves said.  

They're working with McCord volunteer firefighters as part of a task force meeting in Weatherford, then going up against the flames, which have already burned more than 300,000 acres.

"This will probably be the biggest fire I've been on and it's probably gonna be overwhelming to see all the damage and stuff going on," said McCord Volunteer Firefighter Billy Smith. 

While Osage County remains under a burn ban, the firefighters who are staying back will be on standby. 

"Just the few of us leaving, and a couple trucks leaving, the extra burden on them, they know they're gonna have to pick up the extra slack. In the end, they're helping just as much as we are - staying right here," said Hargraves.  

The trip there and back will cost the two departments about $1,000 total but firefighter Billy Smith only asks for one thing. 

"Just pray for all the guys that are out there. Got their lives on the line and everything," Smith said.  

The firefighters plan to head back home on Sunday.