Terlton Fire Crews Dealing With Strained Resources After Destructive Fire

Sunday, August 14th 2011, 6:51 pm
By: News On 6

Dan Bewley, News On 6

TERLTON, Oklahoma -- Firefighters in Pawnee County are still putting out hotspots following last week's wildfire. They believe the fires that have drained their resources were set intentionally.

The massive grassfire burned nearly everything in its path. At 3 miles long and 4 miles wide it took out homes, trucks, and trees and had firefighters scrambling.

08/07/2011 Related Story: At Least A Dozen Homes, Structures Destroyed In Pawnee County Wildfire

"The unique thing that this fire threw at us was the changing wind direction," said North 48 Volunteer Fire Chief Ryan Spyres. "Every time we would chase it long enough to get it contained, it would take off in a different direction and we just didn't have people there fast enough."

North 48 volunteer firefighters were right in the thick of it, hardly getting a break for several days.

"We're finally getting around to where we're getting a little bit of sleep but we're still tired," Spyres said.

A lack of sleep is just a small price the firefighters paid. Their equipment took a beating, and resources were drained.

"We've lost hoses, we've damaged radios, we lost equipment...cell phones, pagers, all our dispatch equipment is having problems," Spyres said.

Sunday morning, Chief Spyres and his crew had to respond to another small grass fire. The fire was only about 3,500 square feet and was quickly put out.

But Chief Spyres says it was arson and just one more thing to worry about.

"It's pretty rough because as short lived as this fire was there's a lot of hidden, unseen details that go along with it," he said.

Most of the departments that fought last week's grassfire are volunteers -- which means a very limited budget.

For North 48 that's $4,500 a year from the state and $250 a month from the county, the rest comes from donations and member dues.

Chief Spyres doesn't seem worried; he says they'll do what they need to in order to be there for the next wildfire.

"We've always found a way to persevere in times like this. This is by far our worst incident," he said.

The North 48 Fire Department will hold some fundraisers this fall to help recoup some of the money that was lost while fighting this fire.

But, to give you another example of their generosity, they're planning to help the residents here first with a benefit this Saturday.