Edmond residents recall ‘a wall of fire'

Residents say the fire came too fast to protect belongings, but getting out without injury was more important. They spent Sunday searching through ash and debris for personal items.
Staff Writers Modified: August 7, 2011 at 10:14 pm •  Published: August 7, 2011

EDMOND — The tally stands at seven houses and three mobile homes destroyed in the Edmond wildfires on Saturday, authorities said.

Three other mobile homes were damaged, but no injuries have been reported from the wildfire that burned across 1,000 acres, Edmond fire prevention chief Tim Wheeler said.

Firefighters spent much of Sunday putting out hot spots and extinguishing flare-ups. Wheeler said most of the homes destroyed were in the area near Coffee Creek and Sooner roads. Several of those homes were in Blackjack Acres, just west of Interstate 35 on Coffee Creek Road.

“I came home and noticed that there was a lot of smoke in the backyard and then went out there to investigate and by that time we had a wall of fire coming in,” resident Joel Rodriguez said.

“Everything was already engulfed in flames,” he said.

“My first thought was for my wife's safety, to get here to a safe site. As long as we had each other, that was important,” he said.

“We literally left with the clothes on our backs. We did not have a chance to do anything,” Rodriguez said.

They returned to their home of 16 years a few hours later. “The embers were still burning and it was still on fire, but it was too late. It was all gone by that point,” he said.

“It's devastating, and I guess you really don't realize what you miss until it's gone,” he said.

“If anything, I would have liked to have kept her wedding ring ... Once things settle down, we'll hopefully try to salvage through and see if we can find those,” Rodriguez said.

Resident George Reich spent Sunday morning looking for some old guns, his coin collections and dishes given to him by his great-grandmother. He already found one of his rings early Sunday.

“My wedding ring is in the same toolbox and I'm still digging through it. Just trying to find what I can,” he said.

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