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.
Reich said firefighters were able to salvage some family portraits from the home before flames razed his home.
“The fire department was one mile away when the wind shifted and they said it took them maybe three minutes to get here. And when they pulled in here, that thing was engulfed. It happened literally within minutes,” he said.
“They just went in the front entrance and these pictures were on a hallway right there and then they came back out because the roof and everything was fully in flames,” Reich said.
“Those portraits are really the only thing that was saved in the fire at all. There was about six or seven portraits,” he said.
“I just told my wife, ‘Go get the dog.' And then I tried to go find my keys. I found my keys. I tried to find my wallet and my cellphone. I couldn't find it and those embers were hitting the windows and popping off the side of the house and I ran out and got in the truck and I left and I could barely see leaving the place,” Reich said.
The wildfire started Thursday and rekindled on Friday and again on Saturday. Fire crews were successful keeping fire away from homes during much of Saturday afternoon, but winds later shifted and drove the flames directly at homes.
Residents were evacuated for several hours and some were allowed back in their homes late Saturday.
The American Red Cross opened a center at 28 E Main St. in Edmond to assist families. Chief Development Officer Sally Ray said several families came to the center Saturday evening but left to return to their homes. The center closed at midnight.
Ray said the City of Edmond set up an automated phone line to answer inquiries about access to affected areas. Residents can call 359-4575 for more information.