Cleveland Grassfire Accidentally Ignited By 'Burn Pile,' Fire Marshal Says

Thursday, March 10th 2016, 1:03 pm
By: News On 6

Editor's note: Investigators called back to clarify previous statements made to News On 6. The burn pile was on a property south of the victims' property. The story has been updated.

A Sunday grassfire that burned two residences in rural Pawnee County – a mobile home and a fifth-wheel trailer – has been ruled accidental.

Sam Schafnitt of the Oklahoma State Fire Marshal’s Office said on Thursday that a "burn pile" on a neighboring property caused the fire.

“The fire originated in the east backyard area of a burn pile [south of the victims' property] that was there and progressed over to the trailer house and destroyed it,” Schafnitt said.

The fire also burned a secondary residence, a fifth-wheel trailer that was occupied, according to the family. They told News On 6 they were napping when their dog's bark woke them and saved them from the wall of fire moving toward their home.

The fire burned about a mile from 5200 Road to 5300 Road near Terlton Road in rural Cleveland, according to the county emergency manager.

Nineteen fire agencies helped battle the flames in 40 mph wind gusts for most of the afternoon. Firefighters were able to keep the path in the wooded rural area and save it from affecting neighboring homes.

3/10/2016 Related Story: Rural Cleveland Grassfire Burns Two Residences; Dog's Bark Saves Residents

Several fires burned throughout Creek, Pawnee, Osage and Washington counties on Sunday. The dry vegetation and high winds caused the National Weather Service to issue a red flag warning for all four of those counties and several others that day. A red flag warning alerts people that conditions are ripe for out-of-control fires and urges no burning, but there was not a burn ban in place by government officials.

The Mannford fire chief said the fire along Highway 51 likely was ignited by power lines hitting each other in the wind and sparking. The fire spread quickly, forced the highway to close, burned a power pole and left the city without electricity for hours, but no structures were taken. We have contacted the state fire marshal to find out if local officials requested an investigation into the cause.

The fire in Washington/Osage counties near Hughes Ranch burned nearly 12,000 acres and was ruled arson. Most of what burned was in open range land, but a casino and a home were threatened. Two arrests have been made in that case and charges have been filed.

3/10/2016 Related Story: Grass Fires Spread Across Northeastern Oklahoma

3/10/2016 Related Story: Massive Wildfire Makes Way Across Washington, Osage County Ranchlands

3/10/2016 Related Story: Ochelata Couple Charged With Arson