Nine Fire Departments, National Guard Battle Skiatook Wildfire

Tuesday, March 24th 2015, 5:02 pm
By: News On 6

The Skiatook Fire Department and several others raced to stop a raging fire and to save a herd of cattle, just northwest of town, near Avant Tuesday.

Colonel Max Moss with the Oklahoma National Guard said they responded to a request to support Skiatook firefighters in suppressing the fire.

Osage SkyNews 6 HD was there as the National Guard scrambled the Black Hawk helicopter to help slow down raging wild fires.

They flew a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter with a 660-gallon Bambi bucket, he said. The helicopter was used by crews until about 7:00 Tuesday night.

Swirling wind and flying ash fueled the out-of-control fire that firefighters believe started Monday night as a controlled burn, and strong winds rekindled and fueled the flames around noon Tuesday.

A herd of confused cattle ran from the fire, and into the smoke, as it burned hay bail after hay bail.

Nine local fire departments - Ramona, Avant, Owens and Company, Skiatook, Morgan's Corner, Country Corner, Black Dog, Washington County and BIA - and the National Guard responded.

A Black Hawk flew overhead and dumped more than 600 gallons of water.

As the winds continued to shift from the southeast, to the northwest and back, the fire grew and jumped to start new fires, according to Osage County Emergency Manager, Jerry Roberts.

"The fire was going one direction and then it all the sudden changed and went the other," he said.

Roberts said 3,500 acres have burned so far, near Javine Hill Road between Avant and Skiatook.

"As the days get 80 degrees or higher and the wind blowing, that grass dries up real quick," he said.

The fire threatened nearby homes, including Scott and Bailey Brown.

"I got a call from my wife at work and she was terrified and said road may be blocked and may evacuate," said Scott.

The Brown family prepared to evacuate, as ash fell from the sky.

Bailey said, "We went outside and the smoke was, like, really thick and it was making my eyes burn, and so my brother went outside and made a little trench and started watering everything."

Firefighters had the fire under control by Tuesday evening, and said it marks the start of grass fire season.