Wildland Fire in Texas County at 3000 Acres
Joe Denoyer - December 19, 2016 8:12 pm
Guymon Fire Firefighters and many other area Fire Agencies were called to a large grass fire Friday afternoon to the Opitma Lake Refuge area. At 2:30pm Friday, Hunters near the refuge area called 911 reporting seeing smoke near the Opitma Refuge shooting range located on the west side near Rd. W & Mile 49. “At the time the fire was called it was the same time the fire danger in the Oklahoma Panhandle was at its highest and most critical”, said Assistant Fire Chief Grant Wadley of the Guymon Fire Department. Temperatures were in the low 70’s, winds were from the south/southwest at 30-40mph, and humidity levels were approaching their lowest levels of the day.
Within 30 minutes of the fire being reported, it grew in size of nearly ½ mile wide and reaching 1 mile in length as first arriving Firefighters from Hooker, Hardesty, and Guymon were getting on scene. In the next four hours, the fire had spread to 1 mile wide and 7 miles long before a cold front and Firefighters were able to stop the advancing head of the fire at Rd. T & Mile 56. Firefighters reported flame lengths at times to be 30-40feet, miles of continuous fire line, with zero visibility. Oklahoma Highway Patrol and Texas County Sheriff Deputies had to shut down county roads ahead of the fire due to visibility and Firefighter operations. U.S. Highway 412 was closed for approximately 30 minutes due to heavy smoke conditions. It is estimated that 3000 acres burned in this massive fire, 2 barns/out buildings were destroyed, 4 homesteads were saved, and 3 large hog barn sites were saved. “This fire was complicated by its geographic location, dry conditions, high ground fuel load, moderately high temperatures, and extremely high winds”, said Wadley. Cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Firefighters and units from Oklahoma, Texas, and Kansas were all called to assist in bringing this fast moving massive fire to a stop. At one point, over 20 Firefighting agencies, 3 Law Enforcement agencies, 2 County Emergency Management Directors, 12 County Road maintainers, and dozens of Water tankers were all effectively fighting this fire.
Firefighters and emergency responders were on scene for approximately 7 hours. By 9:30pm Friday night while Fire Crews were still putting out hot areas, winds drastically changed and were coming from the north at 15-20mph with temperatures at 29 degrees, over a 40 degree change in temperatures since the fire was first reported.
Commanding Officers, Firefighters, and all the Emergency Responders want to thank those that assisted in caring for the Responders. Especially the Citizens of the Adams Community, Citizens of Hardesty and Hooker, and businesses from Guymon and Hooker.