Rural Cleveland Grassfire Burns Two Homes; Dog's Bark Saves Residents

Sunday, March 6th 2016, 10:19 pm
By: Tess Maune

The Keystone Lake area saw several fires today, including one that took down a power pole, cutting power to the entire city of Mannford.

Crews in that area had to close a section of Highway 51 while they brought the fire under control.

But at another fire in that area -- one family wasn't so lucky.

Near Cleveland, in Pawnee County, two homes were destroyed by a grassfire as high winds carried the flames.

The McFarland family was among the victims.

Smoke, ash and burned up metal is all that's left of their mobile home.

Two teenagers and two adults were inside the home when a grassfire burned across a pasture and made its way to the property.

The McFarlands said they were taking a Sunday afternoon nap at the time.

Their dog, Hank, barked, woke them and let them know flames were just outside the door.

They made it outside with seconds to spare. They say Hank saved them.

3/6/2016 Related Story: Grass Fires Spread Across Northeastern Oklahoma On Sunday

Cleveland Fire Chief Ryan Murray says about 200 acres burned in the area near Terlton and Anglin Roads, southwest of Cleveland.

Firefighters with 19 different agencies helped to get the fire under control. Murray says wind gusts fanned the flames making the battle tougher.

“It was very, very windy... it was probably gusts of 35/40 miles per hour,” Murray said. “That was our biggest fight was the wind.”

Firefighters were stretched thin across the area.

“And they were all intermingled in together,” Murray said.

Cleveland responded to three different grassfires in the span of a few hours, the chief says.

And while those are under control, Murray knows wildfire season is far from over, so all he can do now is hope some relief is on the way.

“We've still got at least another month of this to worry about,” he said. “Hopefully we get this rain tomorrow night; it'd help us out quite a bit.”

The fire chief says he's not sure yet what started the fire, but said the fire marshal likely will be out to investigate tomorrow.

As for the McFarlands, they didn't have insurance and are staying with family tonight. If you'd like to help them, you can click here.

The cause of the grassfire still is under investigation.

3/6/2016 Related Story: Massive Wildfire Makes Way Across Washington, Osage County Ranchlands