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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

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.

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