Green Country Grassfires Wednesday Force Evacuations, Threaten Homes

Wednesday, March 23rd 2011, 4:18 pm
By: News On 6

OSAGE COUNTY, Oklahoma -- Firefighters in Osage County worked feverishly Wednesday afternoon to keep a grassfire from destroying a home near Skiatook.

The fire broke out near state Highway 20 near Skiatook about 3 p.m.

The Skiatook and Sperry Fire Departments battled the flames. Skiatook Fire Chief Dale Parrish rode along with SkyNews6 to get a bird's eye view of the fire's progress.

The view from SkyNews6 showed gusty winds whipping the flames several feet into the air and spreading rapidly. Firefighters quickly jumped into a grass rig unit as fire burned the grass under the vehicle.

SkyNews6 even caught one man climbing onto the roof of a nearby home.  The man sprayed the roof with water to keep the home from catching fire if the flames came close.

SkyNews6 pilot Will Kavanagh said the flames were within about 50 feet of the home.  According to Kavanagh, the home could barely be seen through the smoke.

There is no word on what caused the fire.  Kavanagh said the fire had burned about 140 acres.

The Skiatook blaze is only one of several fires across Oklahoma. 

The Hominy Fire Department told News On 6 it was battling four grassfires.  The fire department also said there were some evacuations Wednesday evening south of Hominy in the Walnut Creek Area. 

Deputy Emergency Management Director Adrian Horn said 30 people were asked to leave their homes near the town of Prue. She said firefighters were trying to protect structures that were threatened.

Horn says there have been no reports of injuries or property damage.

The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management says a National Guard helicopter was called in to drop water on the blaze.

Oklahoma National Guard helicopters helped firefighters on the ground battle two large wildfires in central and eastern Oklahoma.

Cleveland County Emergency management director Dan Cary said multiple fire departments from Cleveland and McClain counties were working to put out the blaze near Slaughterville Wednesday afternoon. Cary said there were no reports of injuries or property damage, but sheriff's deputies were urging people to leave their homes as a precaution.

3/23/2011 Related Story: Wildfire Burns Out Of Control In Slaughterville

Lt. Col. Max Moss of the Oklahoma National Guard says a CH47 Chinook helicopter with a 1,320-gallon bucket dumped water on the Slaughterville fire. Moss says a UH60 Black Hawk helicopter also helped extinguish a fire near Sallisaw.

Oklahoma has been plagued by wildfires this month. Dozens of homes have been destroyed, including two in the Oklahoma Panhandle on Tuesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.