Officials say man aimed rifle at helicopter fighting Oklahoma wildfire

A man aimed a rifle at a Black Hawk helicopter assisting in fighting wildfires in Cleveland County on Thursday afternoon and investigators are looking for the man.
BY MATT PATTERSON mpatterson@opubco.com Modified: September 1, 2011 at 10:03 pm •  Published: September 1, 2011

Authorities are looking for a man who aimed a rifle at a Black Hawk helicopter that was fighting a wildfire in Cleveland County on Thursday, Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper Betsy Randolph said.

The fire started about 2:45 p.m. and forced evacuations in Noble and briefly threatened Noble High School.

Students were dismissed early from the school. The fire was later contained with no damage to structures.

The pilot of the Black Hawk told investigators he was picking up a load of water at a pond near 48th and Etowah when he noticed a white male who appeared to be in his 30s on an all-terrain vehicle, aiming a rifle at the helicopter.

The Black Hawk pilot immediately dropped the bucket and fled the area. Randolph said investigators don't think any shots were fired and the pilot did not report any damage to the helicopter. When authorities arrived at the scene, they couldn't find the man, Randolph said.

The bucket was later retrieved and the helicopter returned to fighting the fire.

“We know it's an isolated incident because Oklahomans are well known for pulling together in times of crisis,” Randolph said. “But we do hope this person is caught and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

FBI spokesman Clay Simmonds said agents were at the scene interviewing people late Thursday. He said the FBI will assist the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and Noble police in the investigation.


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