40 structures destroyed in Mannford-area wildfire
BY DAVID HARPER World Staff Writer
Friday, August 03, 2012
8/03/12 at 11:21 PM
A wildfire in the Mannford area has destroyed about 40 structures, the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management reported Friday evening.
While how many of those structures were houses was not immediately known.
One home that was destroyed by the fire belonged to Deana Hillsberry-Luckett, who compared the terrifying scene near the junction of Oklahoma Highways 33 and 48 to something out of a movie.
“People were honking and yelling at us, ‘you gotta go, you gotta go,’” she recalled on Friday night. “We were cramming everything into our cars.”
Hillsberry-Luckett said that on Thursday night she had smelled the smoke of nearby fires. Then around 3:30p.m. Friday she could again smell the smoke. By about an hour later, she said, she started watering the lawn, and shortly after that she “told the kids to pack up the toys.”
Besides the neighbors warning her and her family to flee after the fire had “jumped” in their direction, there was no other warning, she said.
“The firefighters are spread so thin,” she said. “There’s just not enough of them.”
By Friday night, the American Red Cross had opened shelters at Freedom Hill Baptist Church at 9914 S. Oklahoma 48 in Mannford and another one at the First Baptist Church of Bristow at 226 E. Sixth Ave. But the agency had to move the Mannford shelter to the First Baptist Church, 105 Greenwood Ave., because of a power outage at the Freedom Hill church.
In addition to numerous local fire departments, Bureau of Indian Affairs and National Guard helicopters were also responding in Creek County.
Farther west, a portion of the Turner Turnpike was closed Friday evening because of a large grass fire located near Northeast 150th Street and Luther Road in Oklahoma County. The turnpike was closed just before 5 p.m. from the Oklahoma City gate to the Chandler gate and was reopened just after 10 p.m., the Oklahoma Highway Patrol reported.
The Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office suspects that the Luther wildfire was started by an arsonist.
Dispatchers received a 911 call about 4 p.m. from a caller who claimed to see a person driving a 2008 black Ford F-150 pickup toss out a burning newspaper. The office asks anyone with information about this person to call 405-869-2501.
In Cleveland County, in the Noble, Slaughterville and Norman area, 17 families' homes were destroyed, American Red Cross regional communications coordinator Kayla Costner reported.
“The conditions are absolutely horrible for firefighting,” Norman Fire Deputy Chief Jim Bailey said. “We have got low humidity; we got winds up 25 mph, so it is just really difficult.”
As of Friday evening, no injuries had been reported to Bailey, but a volunteer firefighter had become overheated.
Because of the severity of the fire, officials asked people to not return to their homes in that area.
“A lot of people are waiting at gas stations or on the side of the roads, thinking they are able to go home, but that’s just not going to happen tonight,” Costner said.
Other wildfires are burning across the state, including in the following locations:
Blaine County -- Several fire task forces continued to assist in the efforts to fight a fire near Geary. Two structures reportedly have been destroyed.
Grady County - Grady County Emergency Management reported a fire south of Ninnekah. Numerous homes were threatened and evacuations occurred.
Additional fires have been reported in Lincoln and Muskogee counties as well as Elk City in Roger Mills County, Fort Cobb in Caddo County and Preston in Okmulgee County, according to the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management.
Meanwhile, a statewide burn ban was issued Friday by Gov. Mary Fallin. The ban supersedes all county burn bans currently in place and will remain in place until it is removed by Fallin.
Also, a state of emergency remains in place for all 77 Oklahoma counties as declared Monday by Fallin due to drought conditions.
Fallin's executive order allows state agencies to make emergency purchases related to disaster relief and preparedness. It is also a first step toward seeking federal assistance should it be necessary. Under the executive order, the state of emergency lasts for 30 days.
The high temperature in Tulsa on Friday reached 107 degrees between 4 and 5 p.m., and not much relief is on the horizon, according to the National Weather Service.
While there will be a 20 percent chance of thunderstorms in the Tulsa area on Saturday, the high temperature is expected to be 112 degrees.
Sunday's forecast for Tulsa calls for another 20 percent chance of thunderstorms with a high near 98 degrees.
The highs in the Tulsa metropolitan area are expected to hover between 100 and 103 degrees through next week, according to the National Weather Service.
Trees go up in flames as a wildfire moves across pastures between Sapulpa and Drumright, just west of the junction of Oklahoma Highways 33 and 48, on Friday evening. Authorities reported that about 40 structures, including an unknown number of homes, were destroyed by the fire. MICHAEL WYKE/Tulsa World
Smoke from the Luther-area fire is seen from the overpass across the Turner Turnpike at Chandler. Westbound traffic is being diverted at Chandler, and the eastbound lanes are closed at the Oklahoma City entrance to the highway. JERRY WOFFORD/Tulsa World