By Conrad Dudderar
Canadian County officials are reminding the public to be on high alert after a fire burned about 600 acres in far west Canadian County.
“We have a potentially dangerous situation happening right now,” Canadian County Commission Chairman Jack Stewart said.
Stewart strongly recommends county residents implement “personal burn bans” outdoors.
A major fire on Nov. 23 started at Karns Road and Route 66 directly north of the Cherokee truck stop off Interstate 40 in Calumet.
The fire was sparked after someone dug a hole and began burning a trash pile – including a mattress – outside.
“Everything was really dry in the area,” Canadian County Emergency Manager Andrew Skidmore said. “The grass was tall, and the wind was blowing 40 miles an hour.
“It was just a terrible idea to start a fire in those conditions.”
Flames spread north and burned across two section lines.
“Fortunately, it didn’t do more damage than it did,” said Stewart, the District 3 county commissioner. “It looked terrible. … the smoke was massive.”
Strong winds out of the south could easily have spread the fire “much farther and wider”, Stewart pointed out.
Nineteen fire departments and three task forces from Canadian, Blaine and Custer counties responded to the big blaze.
“They did a phenomenal job,” Stewart said. “It was a great job by everybody.”
Skidmore commended the efforts of first responders, most of whom were volunteers “helping their community.”
Crews from about 15 oilfield companies also responded to the area.
“Devon really helped us out a lot,” Skidmore noted. “They had two 5,000-gallon tankers and brought two 7,800-gallon tankers full of water.
“It was a really great unified response.”
Chairman Stewart joined Skidmore in urging Canadian County residents to be smart with the current outdoor conditions.
“Everything is really, really dry right now and we have no rain in the forecast,” Stewart said. “This is something people really need to be aware of.
“They don’t need to be out burning. They need to have their own personal burn bans for right now.”