At least five family homes destroyed in blaze

Monday, August 21st 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

BINGER, Okla. (AP) -- A grass fire that roared through canyons and across the grasslands of Caddo County destroyed at least five houses and a Girl Scout camp near Binger.

Firefighters contained the 1,000-plus acre blaze early Monday and kept a watch for hot spots as the ruins smoldered. "It could start back up pretty easy as dry as everything is," Undersheriff Walt Brown said.

Most of the homes destroyed were on the western, southern and northern outskirts of the town of about 700 about 50 miles southwest of Oklahoma City.

Brown said firefighters would be able to get a better assessment of the extent of damages Monday. He said the count Sunday night stood at seven structures, with one of those thought to be a vacant building at Camp Red Rock, the Girl Scout camp three miles west of Binger. A Girl Scout executive toured the site Monday morning.

Brown said the fire may have been started by a controlled burn that got out of hand. He said interviews would be conducted Monday to try to determine the cause.

The fire was fueled by dry bush and cedar trees and spread by brisk winds. It charred about 1,000 to 1,200 acres and forced residents to flee their homes.

The fire's path was nearly a mile wide before it was contained.

Brown said the cedar trees were a big problem because they almost explode in the fire. "We had a real problem with them," he said. "They had that fire roaring for a while."

Flames surrounded a Caddo Electric Cooperative building that stores electrical equipment. Witnesses said the building was blackened before the fire was stopped outside the building. Power was out briefly, probably because of burned power lines, an official said.

The fire also destroyed a Girl Scouts camp, Camp Red Rock, three miles west of Binger.

The blaze began in open pastures and cedar groves about one mile south of Lookeba and was first reported to authorities about 3:30 p.m, said Derrell Morgan, an Oklahoma Highway Patrol dispatcher in Lawton.

Binger Police Chief Spencer Davis said there were no reports of injuries.

Flames and thick smoke forced the temporary closure of several state highways in the Binger area, including Highways 152 and 281, Morgan said.

Binger is the home town of baseball great Johnny Bench.