ENID, Okla. — Crews from six fire departments battled a grass fire northeast of Enid Monday afternoon, working to save homes from a blaze driven by winds in excess of 50 mph.
"We technically had a firestorm happening out there, it was moving so fast," said Enid and Garfield County Emergency Management director Mike Honigsberg.
The fire, which started near railroad tracks in the vicinity of 2000 E. Lake Hellums Road, was reported shortly after noon Monday. Honigsberg said the fire appeared to have started from sparks thrown from a train car.
Fire crews from Kremlin, Hillsdale-Carrier, Garber, Hunter, Pond Creek and Enid responded to the fire, which quickly spread to about 300 acres of grassland in an area between 16th and 30th between Robertson Road and Lake Hellums. Units from Garfield County Sheriff's Office also responded to block roads in the affected area.
Honigsberg said the fire mostly burned grass, and no cattle were harmed in the blaze. But, at the height of the firefighting effort Honigsberg said four homes were at risk of being consumed.
"One of the main things we did is we protected structures," Honigsberg said. "We had engines and grass rigs near each of the structures, and that's what saved a lot of the structures out there."
One of the residences that was in the path of Monday's fire is the home of Paige Keithly, near 30th and Carrier Road.
She found out her home was at risk when she received from her neighbor a call at work in Enid.
"It was very scary," Keithly said. "In the time it took me to drive from town to where we live, I had 15 minutes to think about what was really important in life, and I decided it was anything in our house that was living."
Keithly said she quickly gathered her pets, baby books and scrap books in preparation to evacuate her home.
She said her neighbors pulled together to help each other prepare to evacuate.
"We have the best neighbors in the world," Keithly said. "Our neighbors came over and helped round up our pets and helped us load things in our car. We're just so thankful."
Keithly said she had a tense couple of hours as the fire progressed, but her and her neighbors' homes were spared due to the work of firefighting crews.
"I can't thank the firefighters enough for what they did for us today," Keithly said. "I am amazed all of us out here have our homes to sleep in tonight. It was very scary, but we're incredibly thankful."
Honigsberg said 21 fire units and 45 personnel responded to the fire. He credited their timely response with keeping the fire from spreading further and reaching homes in the area.
"Departments were arriving at the right time to knock the head of this thing down as it advanced," Honigsberg said. "In spite of the wind, everything worked in our favor to battle this fire today."
Fire crews had the flames extinguished and had cleared the scene by about 4:30 p.m. Monday.
"I'm extremely proud of everyone out there," Honigsberg said. "They did a great job and everyone worked together really well. You couldn't ask for better teamwork from all these different departments in getting this fire put out."