Logan County wildfire continues burning Monday as investigators look into cause

Early estimations indicate as many as 3,500 acres have burned, resulting in the loss of more than 30 structures, including six homes, killing one Oklahoman, Guthrie Fire Chief Eric Harlow said.
by Kyle Fredrickson Modified: May 5, 2014 at 10:08 pm •  Published: May 5, 2014

Amber Knox saw the flames and told her father to leave his mobile home tucked away in thick brush on the outskirts of town. He wouldn’t.

Instead, Johnnie Knox, 56, the man identified by family members as the person who died in the Logan County fire late Sunday, lent his truck to a neighboring family so they could retreat to safety.

It was a selfless act that provided little solace for his daughter, who was on hands and knees Monday sorting through the charred remains of her childhood. A half-melted swing set, a stuffed lion and a figurine of a bear hugging a crescent moon were a few of the only discernible items not completely destroyed in the blaze.

“He called me and I tried to tell him to go, all the neighbors did, too, but he’s stubborn,” Amber Knox said. “Now, I’ve come to see if there’s anything left of it.”

The Knox family and thousands of other Logan County residents are facing the aftermath and pending danger of a wildfire that began about about 4 p.m.Sunday southeast of Guthrie east of Interstate 35, and it continued to spread north Monday.

Early estimations indicate as many as 3,500 acres have burned, resulting in the loss of one life and more than 30 structures, including six homes, Guthrie Fire Chief Eric Harlow said.

Unseasonably high temperatures and low humidity are expected to continue through Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service, as fire crews continue battling flareups and investigators look into how the wildfire was sparked.

Monday damage

Roughly 150 homes were threatened as the blaze continued moving north on Monday. More than 200 firefighters from about 40 departments across the state, as far away as Tulsa, joined forces to help extinguish the flames.

However, little progress was made in controlling the fire.

The estimate of 75 percent containment held steady into Monday evening, Harlow said.

“Our area of concern, as its been from the origin, is the north side of this fire,” Harlow said. “When the wind’s picking up and the temperature’s coming up, humidity has dropped on us this afternoon, we have had some fire behavior break out on the north end. We’ve got crews addressing that.”

Part of those efforts included aid from the Oklahoma Army National Guard, who supplied three Black Hawk helicopters equipped with buckets for water drops.

There were steady water supplies five to six miles from the burn site, Harlow said.

The Salvation Army was stationed at the command center, on Seward Road east of I-35, providing food and drink to first responders and displaced residents. Emergency Medical Services Authority treated and released 37 firefighters for heat and smoke-related injuries, spokeswoman Lara O’Leary said.

Two people were brought to local hospitals for injuries related to the fires, the state Health Department reports.

Two of 22 buildings at Central Christian Camp were destroyed in the fire, the organization’s director confirmed.

Gov. Mary Fallin declared a state of emergency for all of Oklahoma and a burn ban in 36 counties at a noon news conference.

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by Kyle Fredrickson
OSU beat writer
Kyle Fredrickson became the Oklahoma State beat writer for The Oklahoman and NewsOK.com in July 2014. A native Coloradoan, Fredrickson attended Western State College before transferring to Oklahoma State in 2010 and graduating in 2012. Fredrickson...
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