Friday, March 3, 2017

Firefighters Battle More Wildfires

Sequoyah County firefighters were busy Thursday battling wildfires throughout the county, including two in the east end of the county, one near the Sequoyah Wildlife Refuge south of Vian and one on Sallisaw’s northeast side

Sallisaw Fire Chief Anthony Armstrong said the fire at Sallisaw burned about 35 acres and endangered two homes. No structures were reported damaged.

The Sallisaw fire department was dispatched at 2:40 p.m. Thursday and fought the blaze until 5 p.m. Armstrong said the wildfire began in the area of Shiloh Road and Taylor Drive, and was possibly an escaped trash fire. The fire burned its way east and southeast “pretty hard,” Armstrong said due to the stiff wind. The fire then jumped the railroad tracks into an adjoining field.

“That’s where we got it stopped,” Armstrong said.

While firefighters battled the blaze, railroad traffic was stopped, as the fire burned over the tracks. Armstrong said when the fire was under control, railroad personnel were called out to check track safety and found it to be all right. The wildfire held up a coal train for about an hour, Armstrong said.

However, the railroad had recently replaced railroad ties in the area. The old railroad ties are stacked along the railroad and did catch fire. Arrmstrong said because the ties continue to burn, the fire department was dispatched again at 7:45 a.m. Friday.

“We just checked to make sure it was okay,” Armstrong said. “Railroad ties are hard to put out. They will just have to burn.”

Armstrong said Sequoyah County Commissioners may have to review a new burn ban for the county at their regular meeting Monday. The county is currently not under a burn ban.

But, Armstrong said, fire departments will most likely be fighting wildfires throughout the spring because of all the dead grass and foliage, because of the wind, and the warm weather.

“It’s something you deal with every spring,” Armstrong said, “until the grass turns green.”

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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