GOLDSBY, Oklahoma -- State Highway 9 reopened but residents are returning to find homes and barns destroyed by a large wildfire near Goldsby.
The wildfire started Friday morning, and was pushed for miles by strong winds. While it did burn closer to Riverwind Casino, the casino was not in danger and operated as usual.
The wildfire started around 11 a.m. about two miles west of Interstate 35, and was pushed by strong winds. McClain County Sheriff Don Hewett said there are actually two fires that started at two separate locations two miles apart. He called that suspicious. Authorities say one of the fires may have been sparked by a cigarette.
SkyNews 9 pilot Mason Dunn flew over the wildfire and watched flames destroy several homes. Reports say at least six homes and 10 barns were burned in the fire. One firefighter in McClain County had to be treated for dehydration.
SkyNews 9 was over 85-year-old Gene McPherson's home as flames raced right up to his fence. McPherson's daughter tried to convince him to leave, but he refused.
"You don't leave your stuff," McPherson said.
McPherson's son, Tom, tried to hold off the flames with a garden hose, but had to retreat when the fire came too close. Fortunately, firefighters arrived and were able to save the house Gene McPherson has lived in since 1978.
Next month McClain County voters will decide whether to extend a county sales tax earmarked for fire departments for another five years. Firefighters and public officials say Friday's fires are a great reason to vote yes.
Nearly the entire state of Oklahoma is under a fire warning. News 9 Meteorologist Jed Castle said three factors have set up to create the worst possible conditions for firefighters: High winds, warm temperatures and low humidity.