Wildfire Burns on Oklahoma Refuge
April 14, 2011
During very dry conditions throughout Oklahoma, a fire started at 11:45 am Tuesday at Fort Sill Army Base spread by 1:15 pm onto the Wichita Mountain National Wildlife Refuge. The fire grew quickly to about 2,300 acres, threatening refuge headquarters, housing, and other structures.
The Indiahoma Wye Fire is burning about 85 miles southeast of Oklahoma City. Although crews from Fort Sill and the refuge lit backfires to consume grass between them and the fire, southeast winds as high as 35 mph pushed flames through tall grass, over two fuelbreaks, and across the refuge boundary fence.
A Job Corps Work Center on the refuge in the path of the fire has been evacuated since Tuesday, with about 160 residents temporarily housed in a local school. Firefighters from FWS and partner agencies are holding the east flank of the fire at Elk Mountain between the fire and about 50 structures, according to Refuge Fire Management Officer Ralph Godfrey. The current management objective is to control the fire’s perimeter and fully suppress the fire.
Numerous hoselays and sprinklers have been set-up in a spider-web pattern around the buildings and a structural protection crew has been requested. Other crews have been requested and are currently on the scene or en route. The fire continues to burn in heavy, dead timber that was blown down during an ice storm in February 2010. Temperatures are in the 80’s and relative humidity in the teens.
The fire is burning in the refuge’s Charon’s Garden Wilderness Area to the north and northwest. The terrain in the wilderness is rugged and largely inaccessible, with steep rocky slopes and timber with understory and litter.
Unified Command has been established between the Fort Sill Fire Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. A Type 2 incident management team under the command of Mike Dueitt was briefed by Godrey and is assigned to the fire today. The interagency team includes the Incident Commander, Public Information Officers, and Plans and Operations Section Chiefs who are FWS employees.
For more information, see contact the Idiahoma Wye Fire Information line at (580) 429-2161.