MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

February 18, 2014

Fire under investigation

Blaze burns 200 acres, three buildings

WAGONER COUNTY — A grass fire that burned nearly 200 acres and destroyed at least three buildings near Porter on Tuesday remains under investigation, emergency management officials say.

Wagoner County Emergency Management Director Heath Underwood said the fire was reported around 2 p.m. Tuesday on Old Porter Road between U.S. 69 and Oklahoma 16. No injuries were reported, he said.

Underwood said 10 area fire departments responded to the fire, including Porter, Okay, Redbird, Tullahassee, Wagoner and Rolling Hills.

“It started along the railroad tracks somewhere and carried north along the tracks,” he said. “It’s still under investigation.”

Firefighters said they found grass blazing along a railroad track, swept by the wind.

“We’re on our third tank wetting the ground,” said Porter firefighter Dustin Allen.

He said he had heard “a train came by and threw sparks.”

Property owners also tried to fight the fires.

“We fought and fought for it not to jump the road,” said Peggy Judkins, whose family owns 32 acres on one side of the road and five acres north of the road.

“We lost part of our barn,” Judkins said. “When my husband came home from work, he started plowing the ground, putting dirt on the surface instead of dry grass.”

Okay firefighter Tonia Hardy said she watched fire consume three buildings.

“When me and another Okay firefighter pulled up down here, the houses were not on fire yet, but by the time we got our motor going and our hose out — which is a matter of seconds — they were just up in flames,” Hardy said. “There was an abandoned house and two trailers that burned.”

Underwood said three abandoned buildings, including a barn and a mobile home was burned.

Around 5 p.m. Underwood said the fires were “pretty much under control.”

“It’s just a matter of taking care of the hot spots,” he said. “Make sure it doesn’t rekindle.”

Underwood said the wind made the fire “move a lot faster.”

Dry, windy weather could continue to cause grass fire problems.

“Wagoner County went under a burn ban today,” Underwood said. “The burn ban means there is to be no outdoor burning.”

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogeephoenix.com.

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