OKC Hosts Meetings To Help Residents Prepare For Wildfire Season

Tuesday, April 10th 2012, 1:24 pm
By: Dana Hertneky

Another scorching hot summer could bring more wildfires to Oklahoma, so Oklahoma City and firefighting experts are urging residents to take steps now to protect their homes.

The Oklahoma City Fire Department will hold the first in a series of meetings Tuesday night, and share information all homeowners should know.

When wildfires raged last summer, flames came right through Howard Bradway's property.

"We lost a lot of trees."

The flames destroyed his shed and everything in it, then came dangerously close to his house.

"Right here you can kind of see it," Bradway said as he pointed to the burned spot on his desk.

Firefighters were able to stop the fire just in time, but the fire destroyed 33 other homes that same day. It was because of that the Oklahoma City Fire Department launched a program to teach homeowners how to protect their houses.

"With Oklahoma winds and dry summers, we could find ourselves in that same predicament again in late summer," Kellie Sawyers, Fire Marshal with the Oklahoma City Fire Department, said.

Marshal Sawyers says people should think of their homes as a target with three different zones. In the zone closest to your house, use concrete or gravel for walkways; grass should be kept short and anything flammable, including pine or evergreen trees, needs to be removed.

"If they're ignited by those flying embers, you risk catching your own structure on fire because they're too close to the structure," Sawyers explained.

Firefighters also recommend knowing where all your valuables are so you can grab them quickly if asked to evacuate.

Since the fires, Howard says he's been trying to clear the dead trees, and keep his grass short. He hopes if another wildfire burns near his home this year, he will be as fortunate as last time.

"It was scary, but God was with us," he said.

As part of the program, firefighters also will be hanging tags on gates if they drive by a house and notice something that concerns them.

In addition to Tuesday night's meeting, there are several more residents can attend:

  • Tuesday, April 10 at 6:30 p.m.
    Oakdale School, 11901 N. Sooner Road
    Northeast Oklahoma City (Ward 7 – Councilman Skip Kelly):
  • Tuesday, April 17 at 7 p.m.
    Bridgestone Intermediate Center, 1700 S Council
    Southwest Oklahoma City (Ward 3 – Councilman Larry McAtee)
  • Thursday, April 19 at 6:30 p.m.
    Harmony Christian Church, 7100 S. Choctaw
    Southeast Oklahoma City (Ward 4 – Councilman Pete White)