Fire Contained, But Smoke Still Hangs Over Green Country


Tuesday, September 13th 2011, 4:57 pm
By: News On 6


Craig Day, News On 6

MUSKOGEE COUNTY, Oklahoma -- The blanket of smoke is still hanging over several Green Country communities. The smoke is from a fire that burned several thousand acres.

9/12/2011 Related Story: Camp Gruber Fire Causes Green Country Haze

It started Saturday and was contained. But the fire at Camp Gruber flared up again Sunday, and a lot of the smoke is still hanging around.

Four thousand acres at Camp Gruber are scorched, which is a small portion of the 33,000 acres base. But 4,000 acres produced enough smoke to blanket mile after mile of countryside, and several communities.

"The smoke is a whole lot worse probably than what the fire was," said Lt. Col. Billy Robison.

Camp Gruber's Operations Manager Lieutenant Colonel Billy Robison says the fire was ignited by a machine gun tracer round that skipped off the firing range and into the nearby woods. The flames had plenty of fuel.

"A lot of the fuel that was generated by the ice storm back in 2008, 2007 is still on the ground," he said.

On Saturday, crews had the fire contained. But it reignited Sunday, prompting Army National Guard water drops.

The base used its fire trucks and personnel along with nearby volunteer firefighters and state forestry crews to fight the fire. It's now fully contained.

The part of the fire that is still burning at Camp Gruber is burning away from the perimeter and into the interior. It will eventually collapse on itself and the fire will burn out. Rain is in the forecast and that could provide the extra insurance to keep it from flaring back up again.

Crews are still patrolling around the clock to make sure the fire doesn't jump fire lines and get off base.

"We're watching the perimeter, because of this wind. And the wind has been shifting, that's been one of our bigger issues," Robison said.

No structures or facilities on base were damaged or destroyed. The thick blanket of smoke may linger a little longer, depending on the weather.