ANOTHER fire burns in Quartz Mountain State Park

Monday, July 23rd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LONE WOLF, Okla. (AP) _ Firefighters were battling another blaze Sunday in the Quartz Mountain State Park, the second time in less than a week a fire had sparked in the southwest Oklahoma park.

The latest fire _ apparently started in a hot spot leftover from a fire earlier in the week _ was burning about a 1 1/2 miles southwest of the park lodge, said Michaelann Ooten, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Civil Emergency Management.

``The lodge itself is not in danger right now,'' Ooten said.

Park officials believed they had the fire contained Sunday night, but would keep watch overnight, she said. The situation would be reevaluated Monday morning, Ooten said.

On Wednesday, firefighters managed to control a brush fire that burned within a half-mile of the $17 million lodge, which reopened this year after being burned down in 1994.

Ooten said Wednesday's fire had burned an area near the lodge which was acting as a firebreak.

The fire burned Sunday in a hilly area that wasn't accessible to pumper trucks and other ground equipment, she said. To make matters worse, the area also is dotted with cedar trees, which often act as fuel for wildfires.

Just as they did earlier in the week, park officials relied on help Sunday from an Army National Guard helicopter to fight the fire. The Chinook used its 1,000 gallon bucket to drop water from nearby Lake Altus.

None of the 50 guests were evacuated from the 120-room lodge.

``We can't see the smoke from here like we did last week,'' said lodge Manager John Sharp.

The weather wasn't helping firefighters, either.

The National Weather Service put much of the state under a heat advisory through Tuesday. The advisory includes 37 counties and excludes only those on the far eastern and western edges of Oklahoma.

The mercury hit 108 in Hobart and 107 in Lawton on Sunday. Oklahoma City had a 105 degree reading, while Tulsa was at 103.

With no rain in the forecast and temperatures expected to remain above 100, the conditions are ripe for wildfires.