Medicine Lodge, KS: 3/10/2017
The nightmare that has been this short wildfire season start has been nothing short of amazing. Coming off of the Anderson Creek Wildfire from almost a year ago we have a unique experience. And exactly seven days ago the first fire occurred in Alfalfa County Oklahoma. Barber County sent units from Kiowa Rural Fire Dept. to the Byron, OK are for a stubborn wildfire. For most of that day they and many other departments fought a stubborn fire in difficult terrain. Most likely that fire is still smoldering down there.
At 5 PM that day Sharon Fire Department went east of town on the old US 160 blacktop to a bale yard of hay that was burning. In the days since Barber County sent units to Reno County to assist on that wildfire. Upon returning home the fire at Cullison was pulling units from the region and Barber County sent trucks from Sun City, Lake City, and Station One.
As those units were on the scene in Pratt County the word of large smoke from south west was noticed and the word of Clark and Comanche Counties fighting a large wildfire. As the Barber County units were released a fire was started by electric lines north and west of Medicine Lodge. Looking out of the window from here it was going to be a big stubborn fire by the size of the smoke column. While this was going on a call for bales on fire near Union Chapel called units from the south part of the county to it.
As units were not all on hand for a normal first response a call for one truck from Medicine Lodge City Fire to assist was made. Isabel had just returned from Cullison and they responded to the fire immediately. The fight on this fire was a hard day and two days of overhaul were made before it was safe to leave the scene unattended.
In the mean time Comanche County had called for assistance and for the first time there were no units to spare to immediately respond. As the regional and statewide response got started units were finally able to go to Clark and Comanche Counties to return the favors we received just last year.
As the rash of fires in four states grew beyond the size of what we had experienced a year ago it brought back the memories and the sense of togetherness we share with the rest of the state and the region. Resources have been pushed to the limit and the size of the help that will be needed to overcome this year’s disaster will have to overshadow what we experienced.
Hopefully the experience that so many people have had through this rash of fires will start people to look at what they need to do to prepare their homes, farms, and ranches for the possibility of how to lessen the threat and what needs to be done if a fast evacuation is required.
Also the local and state governments will look at the strengths and needs of our fire service and support services that need to be put on a priority basis instead of an afterthought on the priority list.