WELLSTON — Firefighter Charles Danker called it a scene of "hell on Earth,” his description of a fast-moving wildfire that threatened this Lincoln County community and forced residents to flee.
The wildfire, which started about 3 p.m. Thursday and continued through the early hours Friday, scorched more than 800 acres and destroyed three mobile homes, along with several outbuildings and barns.
The fire briefly rekindled Friday afternoon but was extinguished.
One firefighter suffered second- and third-degree burns when he was caught up in flames along near State Highway 66 at the southern edge of town. His fire truck was destroyed.
The fire started south and west of town.
Fanned by 45 mph winds, it quickly spread northeast, jumping across the Turner Turnpike.
Heavy smoke drifting across the turnpike, SH 66 and SH 102 forced the closure of those roads for a short time. As the fire reached near SH 66, which forms the southern edge of Wellston, some 80 firefighters from 16 fire departments made a stand against the flames.
And for good reason, as a potentially explosive scene was on the horizon.
Crews feared the worst as the flames made their way toward SH 66 near Green’s Propane.
And up the road to the east, a short hop away, stood a travel center with an array of fuel pumps.
Danker, a training officer for the Wellston Volunteer Fire Department, said the wildfire was the worst he’s ever seen around the community.
"It was unbelievable,” he said, noting that bountiful cedar trees in the area literally exploded.
Contributing: Clifton Adcock, Tulsa World