, Muskogee, OK

March 20, 2014

Seven departments battle wildfire

Wind-blown blaze sweeps across mile of land

By E.I. Hillin
Phoenix Staff Writer

— WAINWRIGHT — Brown haze filled the sky south of Muskogee on Thursday afternoon as a grassfire swept over a mile of land before being contained by at least seven local fire departments.

“It was a bad fire. It could have been a lot worse if we hadn’t received help from the other fire departments,” said Wainwright Fire Chief Matt Gardenhire.

Wainwright Fire Department got the call at 2:28 p.m. about a fire on Wainwright Road. The fire quickly spread one mile north to 93rd Street where firefighters were able to contain the blaze.

 The firefighters were able to save all the nearby structures. The cause of the fire is still unknown, Gardenhire said.

“High winds and dead grass — it’s the right condition for a fire,” Gardenhire said.

Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Ron Watson rushed home to after he got news of the grass fire. He lives in the area where the fire started.

“I came home to see what all got burned,” Watson said.

The fire burned some of Watson’s land and his fence.

 “I just lost a little grass. I’m glad that was it,” he said.

Watson was pleased with the fire departments’ efforts to stop the fire from spreading.

“Fire departments did a pretty good job of getting it contained,” Watson said.

The cause of the fire is unknown, but Watson has a theory.

“We normally have a lot of people drive down this road, pulling trailers,” Watson said.

Watson said he thought it was possible the fire was caused by a spark from a trailer, but now thinks it was started from something else because were no other fires.

“I bet it was a cigarette,” he said.

No injuries were reported because of the fire, but one calf did sustain burns, Gardenhire said.

Watson said it was his son who found the calf.

“My son, Colt Watson, found him, got him up and got him by his mother, and I think he will be OK,” he said.

After almost three hours of battling the blaze Gardenhire released the other fire departments who were called out to assist Wainwright.

“It was about five o’clock. We put the rest of the hot spots out,” Gardenhire said.

The estimate of the damage is unknown, but Gardenhire said the fire burned one mile long and a half-mile wide.

Muskogee County is not under a burn ban, but fire department officials are urging residents not to attempt to start any controlled fires. Wagoner County is under a burn ban.

Reach E.I. Hillin at (918) 684-2926 or