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NE OKC Fires Move into Day Three

Filed by Michael Cross in Feature, Local News, News.
September 2, 2011

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Oklahoma City firefighters are doing everything they can to extinguish a large wildfire in the northeast part of the metropolitan area.

The fire has already destroyed more than 30 homes and as much as five thousand acres over the past three days.

But, the fire crews aren’t doing it alone.

Firefighters are racing to and from the scene at Northeast 63rd and Sooner Road trying to get the fire contained within the 18 square mile area.

It’s the third day for so many of these firefighters.

Oklahoma City Deputy Fire Chief Marc Woodard says after a while the fatigue starts to set in.

“It does take its toll on you some guys worked 12 hour shifts, 24 hour shifts at a time so it takes its toll in this heat.”

While crews head out to the fires, even more are coming in to lend a hand.

Oklahoma County Emergency Manager David Barnes is coordinating with brave men and women from across the state.

“Multiple areas of the state have been sending task forces. It’s just been excellent support that we’ve gotten as far away as Tulsa, Wagoner County, Grove has units here and then far southwest as well.”

Oklahoma National Guard helicopters are also on hand to help douse the fire with hundreds of gallons of water.

The Department of Forestry is pitching in with bulldozers and personnel.

Even Oklahoma City Animal Control is doing its part in this mostly rural area with gathering livestock, horses and dogs.

Officer John Alverado says when the fires started on Tuesday evacuating residents were told to just open the gates and let the animals run away from the flames.

“With all the fire trucks and brush pumpers going through here and plus the fire is large but these roads go to all other parts of the community. Even when there’s no fire out and the roads aren’t closed and vehicles are driving at a normal rate of speed and can strike these animals.”

Volunteer organizations are doing their part to help in this time of need.

Feed The Children has already sent much needed water to victims of Hurricane Irene on the East Coast and is gearing up for more aid which could be needed with a hurricane forming in the gulf.

Now, its workers are providing things like ice, food, coolers, and water for the Salvation Army to take care of the firefighters.

Spokesperson Mark Opgrande says this time it’s an opportunity to help someone in their own backyard.

“All of our employees live here. So when the need arises and especially when this started to occur we felt look we need to help and that’s exactly what we did. Called the Salvation Army said what do you guys need we’re here to help.”

Central Oklahoma Red Cross has been on scene all day and night to provide food, snacks and water.

Chief Executive Officer Janienne Bella says volunteers are giving of their time to help those who are putting their lives on the line for others.

“They’re hydrated they’re fueled up and ready to go fight for another 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 hours. We’ve talked to some that have been here for long periods of time and they’re hot and tired and when they have a chance to rest that’s what the Red Cross is here for to make sure that they have what they need.”

The Red Cross is also providing help for several families whose homes have been damaged or destroyed by the fire.

Bella says crews are still assessing how much of an impact the blaze has had on the people in this area.

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