Rogers County Rancher Loses Thousands Worth Of Hay In Grass Fire

Friday, July 20th 2012, 5:43 pm
By: News On 6

Rancher Lyle Blakley watched Thursday as hundreds of bales of hay went up in flames.

Blakley said it's just one more hurdle he's being forced to jump.

More than 1,700 acres of pasture land in Oologah were covered by a wildfire Thursday afternoon.

It destroyed nearly everything in its path, including bales of hay that didn't stand a chance against the fire.

"Part of it was mine and part of it was my neighbor's," Blakley said.

Blakley spent Friday loading up hay to replace what he lost on Thursday.

His ranch was right in the middle of the fire.

"All the friends and neighbors were calling and wondering what they can do to help," Blakley said.

Three different stacks of Blakley's hay were swallowed by the fire—that's nearly 400 bales.

"It's a substantial loss," Blakley said. "You're talking hay, right now, bringing from $45 to $80 a bale."

Fire investigators are still not sure how it started, but say the heat and strong winds made it a challenge for firefighters.

7/19/2012 Related Story: Firefighter Treated For Heat Exhaustion After Oologah Grass Fire

Debbie Sligar and her family live across the street from the fire.

"It was pretty intense," Sligar said.

They said it was moving fast and were worried that their home was in danger.

She said she was amazed at the hard work of the firefighters despite the painful heat.

"We thought they had that under control here in the fields and they did, and it started flaring up real big by the house," Sligar said.

A day later, all that's left of one Lyle Blakley's stacks of hay is just a pile of smoldering ash.

He said the drought this year seems worse, because last year's dry weather never allowed for a build-up of moisture below the soil.

But he said he has no choice. He'll just keep doing what he does and hope for the best.

"Oh, just keep going. It's a loss, but in agriculture, that's what we do. We rely on Mother Nature to help us, and sometimes it goes the other way," Blakley said.

Ten different departments helped put out the fire.

One firefighter was treated and released at a hospital and four others were treated for heat exposure at the scene.