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Luther wildfire: 'Just trying to find our way back,' resident says a year later

One year after a wildfire tore through the central Oklahoma town of Luther, destroying dozens of homes, one woman chose to rebuild instead of moving away.
by Adam Kemp Modified: August 3, 2013 at 3:00 pm •  Published: August 2, 2013

A charred chain of silver crosses hangs from the rearview mirror of Nancy Peters' pickup.

The crosses belonged to her husband, Gary. He wore them nearly ever single day before his death in January 2012.

The chain is one of the few remaining items Peters has left that belonged to her husband.

“We watched as everything burned,” she said. “It was just devastating losing him and then losing everything; we lived in that house for more than 20 years. We are just trying to find our way back now.”

‘It still hurts'

One year after a wildfire tore through the small town of Luther, destroying dozens of homes, Peters decided to keep her roots firmly planted in her hometown's soil.

Around her house are reminders of last year's devastation.

The fire, which investigators say they believe was started by an arsonist who was throwing lighted newspapers from the window of a pickup, destroyed more than a dozen homes on S Dogwood Street alone.

The arsonist was never arrested.

Peters said her son and daughter were able to make it into the house to grab a few important things as flames began to crawl up through her backyard.

“By the time they got in and out, the fire was already in the house,” she said. “It was really hard to see it all go. It still hurts.”

It wasn't until the cleanup started a few days later that they found her husband's chain of crosses.

Now, a forest of blackened trees surrounds her home, the melted remains of her motorcycle are still stuck to the foundation of her barn and the lots of would-be neighbors are still sitting empty.

‘Now it's just me'

Peters, 61, said she is the lonely house on Dogwood Street as she was the only one to rebuild on her original property after the fire. Everyone else ended up moving away — either because they were renting the property or because they had no insurance.

“It was a hassle to get my house back out here,” she said.

“So many restrictions to build back here, and just the permits alone were extremely high.”

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by Adam Kemp
Enterprise Reporter
Adam Kemp is an enterprise reporter and videographer for the Oklahoman and Kemp grew up in Oklahoma City before attending Oklahoma State University. Kemp has interned for the Oklahoman, the Oklahoma Gazette and covered Oklahoma State...
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“My friends look at me now and tell me they would've sold and moved away. My husband is buried out here, and I just couldn't do it. This is my home.”

Nancy Peters,
Standing on the foundation of her garage in Luther


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