Oklahoma City Metro area: Clinging to hope after wildfire

FROM STAFF REPORTS Modified: April 11, 2009 at 7:46 am •  Published: April 11, 2009
Firefighters continued to battle hotspots and high winds Friday in the metro area as families who fled the flames a day before returned to see what was left of their homes.

Wildfires that swept across eastern Oklahoma County destroyed 100 structures. In Midwest City and Choctaw, officials said there were an estimated 2,000 acres burned, destroying more than 70 homes — 12 in Midwest City and 58 in Choctaw. State health officials report that 60 people across the state have been injured in wildfires or in fire-related incidents.

The cause of the fires is unknown, but officials said the largest fire, in Midwest City, may have been intentionally set.

Here’s a look at the situation in the metro area:

CHOCTAW
John Carpenter’s home near NE 10 and Choctaw Road was spared from Thursday’s flames, but a century-old farmhouse and other buildings owned by his family were destroyed. The wind-fueled wildfire advanced toward his home quickly Thursday night before he fled.

"I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said.

The fire also spared his brother’s two horses, that had won races.

The Carpenter family lost countless photos, videos and antique items stored in two houses on their property. "I’d hate to even sit down and make a list,” said Tom Carpenter, John’s brother.

About 10 homes burned in the Oak Park addition south of Choctaw High.

Heather Ericksen, 21, said she saw her family’s burning home on television Thursday night, but it was still a shock to see the devastation in person.

"It blew my mind,” she said. "It’s just all gone.”

Ericksen said the fire was the worst thing that had ever happened to her family, but she was relieved her relatives and their dogs were OK.

The news wasn’t all bad for Oak Park residents.

Nancy Brooks returned to her house on NE 4 on Friday morning to find nothing more than some burned grass and plants.

"I was blessed, I’ll tell you that,” she said.

Brooks’ son, Ricky Gilbert, said firefighters pulled down her neighbor’s fence as they raced to contain the fire.

"It’s a good thing they did,” he said. "They probably saved her house.”

Neighbor Paul Anderson wasn’t worried about his damaged fence.

"It could have been a lot worse,” he said.



Carter County: 29 homes and

3 businesses destroyed

Grady County: 15 homes and

3 businesses destroyed

McClain County: 10 to 15 homes destroyed

Oklahoma County: 100 structures destroyed (Midwest City, 12 homes; Choctaw, 58 homes)

Cleveland County: 11 homes and 6 mobile homes destroyed

Murray County: Five homes destroyed

Stephens County: 16 homes destroyed

SOURCE: State Department

of Emergency Management

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