Green Country Fire Departments Head West To Aid Oklahoma City Crews

Thursday, September 1st 2011, 6:36 pm
By: News On 6

Lacie Lowry, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- Many of the resources used to fight the flames Thursday in Oklahoma City came from this side of the state.

9/1/2011 Related Story: Multiple Fires Reported In Oklahoma

Firefighters and equipment from at least fifteen different fire departments in Green Country headed west early Thursday morning

The Oklahoma Forestry Department and state emergency management are coordinating task forces, and they got a huge response from Northeast Oklahoma.

The Washington County Emergency Management office is unusually quiet.

"It gets kind of hectic, usually I'm not the only one here, but today I'm the only one here," said Melissa Pitner, Washington County Emergency Mgmt.

Melissa Pitner is monitoring county resources after the emergency management office sent all of its fire trucks and half of the firefighters to Oklahoma City. Four other departments in the county wanted to help, too.

"We send out a page to our fire chiefs and ask them, ‘What can you spare? Do you have anybody that can go?' And we try to get the task force together," she said.

Washington County sent a total of 16 fire personnel, five brush trucks and a tanker to relieve exhausted crews to the west. Nearly every one of the firefighters are volunteers.

"They took time off of their paying jobs to go do this to help our neighbors," Pitner said.

One of the departments that sent help is Bartlesville.

"We're going to send what we can without stripping all of our resources up here," said Bartlesville Fire Chief Bob Hasbrook.

Chief Hasbrook says mutual aid boundaries don't exist in these large-scale fires, especially when it's exceptionally dry.

"In this case, we'll send resources, if they need it and request it, we'll send them as far away as Oklahoma City, we've been out in the panhandle of Oklahoma before," he said.

According to Hasbrook, departments that send mutual aid resources pay for all the expenses -- gas, meals, damage to equipment. But that's part of the job.

"No one department, I don't care how big you are, can stand alone. You are always going to need help," Hasbrook said.

Ottawa County sent resources, six fire departments in Mayes County sent firefighters and equipment, and Delaware County also sent manpower and trucks from six departments.

They'll re-assess whether those resources are still needed later this evening.