High winds cause fire, power woes
Wind gusts close to 70 miles an hour kept firemen from eight communities busy for about seven hours Wednesday northwest of Arapaho.
Fortunately, grass and hay were the only things that burned.
The fire was concentrated on a rural area approximately two miles north of State Highway 33 West and three miles west of U.S. Highway 183. Clinton Fire Chief Brett Russell said about 200 acres of grass burned along with 100 bales of hay.
“Luckily, there were wheat fields all around,” he said.
“It started around 5 p.m., and we had it cleaned up around midnight.”
In the midst of that, firemen had a semi rollover to respond to on Interstate 40. No injuries were reported from it.
Besides Clinton, firemen went to the fire from Arapaho, Butler, Custer City (which had primary responsibility), Thomas, Putnam, Weatherford and Hydro. A U.S. Forestry Service detachment stationed at Weatherford also lent a hand with bulldozers and a couple of brush rigs.
Russell estimated 15 trucks and 35 firemen responded to the blaze.
He thought it probably started from sparks off power lines blowing together. “That’s our best guess,” he said.
The high winds were a special menace for the fire fighters.
“It was even hard to stand up yesterday when we were out on the interstate,” said Russell. “It was one of the worst situations (for wind) I had ever worked in. It definitely wasn’t any fun.”
The winds also caused some power outages. Here in Clinton, Russell said electrical lines went down near I-40 and Neptune Drive.
“I think there were multiple outages,” he said. “We just had to clear a safe area and wait for PSO to clear it up.”
Arapaho, Custer City and the central area of Clinton were other locales that experienced problems. Russell thought the power was back on at Arapaho around midnight.
The fire station in Clinton was among agencies that lost power, but it was only for about an hour.
As he was talking about Wednesday’s problems, another call came in Thursday morning about a grass blaze at an Enable gas plant somewhere in the Hammon-Butler area.