N.M. Wildfire Helps to Increase Oklahoma Population

Friday, July 1st 2011, 7:12 pm
By: News 9

Darren Brown, News 9

NORMAN, Oklahoma -- The wildfires raging in northern New Mexico had an unintended effect last week when they accidentally caused the population of Norman to increase. 

Mike and Stefani Fichtel, both from Oklahoma, had moved to White Rock, New Mexico a few years ago when Mike secured a job at the Los Alamos Nuclear site.  They were enjoying a picnic in their backyard last Sunday with their older son when Mike saw a potential problem. 

"He noticed the plume of smoke," Stefani said.  "He called the fire department a couple times and it was busy."

Mike then called the police department who told him about the fire, and that it was moving rapidly.

"We had smoke blowin' over White Rock really bad," Mike said.  "We had ash starting to land in town, so people started getting concerned."

Just a few hours later, the local news announced a voluntary evacuation.  However, the Fichtels knew it would soon become mandatory.  Mike and Stefani made the difficult decision to leave their home.

"I went outside and all of our neighbors were packing," said Mike.  "Everyone had their car doors open and throwing stuff in and I thought 'Holy smokes, this is real.'"

The Fichtels made their way to nearby Santa Fe, where Stefani was scheduled to have her baby in another week and a half.   They stayed long enough to get the ok from her doctor to travel, and headed for Oklahoma.

Stefani's baby wasn't due for another week and a half, so she and Mike were concerned that she might go into labor on their way back to New Mexico.  But within hours of arriving at her parents' home in Norman, Stefani was at Norman's Healthplex delivering her new eight pound-eleven ounce boy.

The Fichtels are both University of Oklahoma graduates, so they're happy that William ended up being born in the Sooner state, though he was scheduled to be a New Mexican.

The new addition already has a name, but that hasn't stopped Mike's friends from tossing his suggestions via text.  They've suggested Blaze, Cinder, and Asher for the little  guy.