Oklahoma authorities continue search for cause of Logan County wildfire

Initial reports blaming a controlled burn for the wildfire that burned up to 3,500 acres since late Sunday in Logan County were incorrect, said Stan May, spokesman for the Oklahoma Incident Management Team.
by Kyle Fredrickson Modified: May 6, 2014 at 7:48 pm •  Published: May 6, 2014

State investigators continue searching for clues as to how a massive wildfire in Logan County was sparked after initial reports about its origin were proven false.

In a news conference Monday, Guthrie Fire Chief Eric Harlow said the blaze started about 4 p.m. Sunday after a controlled burn from an unknown source spread out of control. But that theory was discredited about 11 a.m. Tuesday, when Stan May, spokesman for the state Homeland Security office’s Incident Management Team, spoke to a group of reporters at a wildfire command post.

“We have no evidence there was a controlled burn,” May said. “That was the information (Harlow) was given at first from the witnesses there ... it doesn’t seem to be a valid statement at this point.”

Investigation continues

The wildfire investigation is being led by the state Agriculture Department and the state Fire Marshal’s office. Neither department has released details of their investigations.

The law enforcement arm of the Agriculture Department is required by statute to investigate wildfires, said Kirby Smith, a department spokeswoman. The state Fire Marshal’s office is involved because structures were burned, said Chief of Operations Sam Schafnitt.

“An investigation like this can take a couple of days,” Smith said. “As I would imagine with any investigation, that timeline can grow or decrease quickly.”

Teams from both departments have spent the past few days analyzing evidence on the ground and aerial maps to track burn patterns, Smith said.

On completion of the investigation, the person or party deemed responsible could face criminal charges.

“That’s obviously not something that would be handled out of our shop,” Smith said. “They will turn that over to the incident commander who will work with the appropriate district attorney’s office.”

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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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