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May 8, 2013

Brush fire battle rages for half day

MARLOW — It took nine hours for firefighters in the south Grady County to finally get a brush blaze under control, but not before 100 acres were scorched.

Crews from Cox City, Bailey, Rush Springs, and Marlow, along with Grady County Fire Department, battled the fire northeast of Marlow along County Road 1590 that started at 2 p.m. Tuesday afternoon and went on into the night. It started when a spark from wheat farming equipment ignited in a nearby group of trees, Grady County Fire Chief Perry Wenzel said.

“It all stayed in the trees,” Wenzel said. “There was one home in its path, but it was protected and no one had to evacuate. There was no crop damage whatsoever.”

A steady south wind and low conditions added to the difficulty of fighting the fire, which was brought under control at around 11 p.m. Tuesday night, Wenzel said. Dry conditions also played a significant factor.

“The wind yesterday and the humidity being low added to it,” he said. “It’s just so dry down there, it hasn’t received a lot of rain. It go up into the trees and it was difficult for us to get there. So, we started back burning (use controlled burns to eliminate fuel for the fire). If we hadn’t, then it has the potential to come out of the brush and continue to burn north.”

Much like wheat farmers, area fire and emergency management officials are hopeful for a rain-filled month of May to lessen the chokehold of drought-like weather.

“Everyone thinks we’ve had a good amount of rain,” Wenzel said. “But I live just southwest of Chickasha, and I dug down four inches in my yard yesterday and there’s no moisture. Right now it’s not that bad, but it could change in a few weeks and we could be where we were last year and have a high fire danger.”

Drought conditions plagued Grady County last summer. May has historically been a mostly wet month for Oklahoma.

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