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Oklahoma wildfires: Residents get back to their lives while remembering the worst

GLENCOE — Marie Montelongo doesn't have time to get sentimental about the possessions she lost after her home burned to the ground.

Montelongo had ducks to save from the heat, a fence line to run and cattle to find after a wildfire ravaged the family's 200-acre Spanish Spur ranch in rural Glencoe Saturday, she said Sunday.

“At this point you just have to figure out what you can do to save what you have,” said Montelongo, covered in soot from rebuilding a charred pen for the ducks.

She's grateful to have a place to stay at her parents' home, untouched by the fire just a few hundred yards away, she said. She and her husband, Oscar, also saved four dogs, four horses and cars before the smoke and fire overran the ranch roughly 80 miles northeast of Oklahoma City.

Weary residents drove on rural Glencoe roads Sunday morning, assessing damage from fires that appeared to have hopscotched over an expansive charred landscape. Hay bales and utility poles spit small flames and smoked amid ashy white and black remains of pasture, forest and the occasional structure.

Around forty miles southeast, officials in Drumright struggled with dwindling resources after beating back a fire that surrounded the town on three sides Saturday. The fires threatened two elementary schools, shut down a hospital and nursing home and prompted an evacuation, Drumright Mayor Deborah Bright said. Eleven structures, including six houses, were burned in Saturday wildfires that came within a block of her house, Bright said.

A wildfire evacuation called for the town of about 3,000 was lifted overnight Saturday. That afternoon, residents were still waiting for both water and power. The hospital remained closed, with patients transferred to nearby Cushing.

The Oak Grove subdivision just outside the Drumright city limits had some of the heaviest damage.

Jonathan Bell, who lives with his family in a trailer on his mother-in-law's property, said his home was spared and so was that of his mother-in-law, who lives in what was once a Baptist church. His wife's grandmother and uncle were not so fortunate; their nearby house burned to the ground.

Bell said he could see the fire surrounding them on four sides as they packed up boxes of family photos before evacuating on Saturday to his place of business in downtown Cushing.

“As the fire was coming I stopped and prayed,” Bell said. “Now we've just got to get power,” he said Sunday after returning to his home.

Gov. Mary Fallin stopped in Drumright Sunday after touring by air a 56-mile long fire line during a Sunday damage assessment, including the hard-hit Mannford area, she said at the Drumright Fire Department.

Fallin noted there are no reports of loss of life and injuries to firefighters have been minor.

“But we're still in the processing of assessing it and looking at some of the areas where we've had some of the bigger grass fires in the rural remote areas,” she said. “It's been extremely difficult this week.”

In Mannford, like other towns with evacuations lifted, residents came home Sunday morning to see what was left.

But many couldn't get the memory of escaping the flames out of their minds.

Midafternoon Saturday, Tom Jolly had been lying down, thinking the fires were moving away from his house on the western outskirts of town. He couldn't smell smoke anymore. He couldn't see flames.

Then somebody pounded on the front door. “It's coming. You have 15 minutes.”“We have to get out,” his wife told him. “Now.”She threw some family photos in a sack. Grabbed a change of clothes. And headed for the car. Then Christel Jolly remembered her makeup bag, and turned around. Five minutes had passed. Fires were burning in the yard. The treetops were shrouded in smoke. “We don't have time to get makeup,” her husband yelled. As they sped away Saturday, the fire was raging on both sides of the driveway.“It warped the paint on the side of the car,” Christel said. “We could feel the heat inside. Another minute or two and we wouldn't have gotten out.”At Lake Church, near the intersection of state highways 48 and 51 west of Mannford, Pastor Greg Hurd made few phone calls to some of the larger congregations in Tulsa. Maybe they could round up a few donations, bottles of water, a little food. The Mannford police soon designated the church as the central hub for all donations. And by midafternoon Sunday, volunteers were sorting clothes and toiletries in the parking lot, with a line of cars full of more stuff, arriving faster than church members could unload it.“We don't know where it's all coming from,” said Karen Hurd, the pastor's wife and an associate pastor herself. “People are just showing up.”Sandra Jordan and her husband were first evacuated Friday, only to get the all-clear to come back Saturday. Before long, they had to leave again. On Sunday, Jordan was sitting in a lawn chair in front of a blackened patch of ground where her house used to be. She now owns a tank top, a pair of shorts and flip-flops. And a lawn chair.“I don't know what we're going to do,” she said. “I have no idea.”

CONTRIBUTING: Michael Overall, Tulsa World

Related Photos
Oscar Montelongo, right, looks at what is left of his home with Doug Roberson looks, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in Glencoe, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

Oscar Montelongo, right, looks at what is left of his home with Doug Roberson looks, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in Glencoe, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-c5803198e7c30de530f4b14f9497a18b.jpg" alt="Photo - Oscar Montelongo, right, looks at what is left of his home with Doug Roberson looks, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in Glencoe, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman" title="Oscar Montelongo, right, looks at what is left of his home with Doug Roberson looks, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in Glencoe, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman"><figcaption>Oscar Montelongo, right, looks at what is left of his home with Doug Roberson looks, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in Glencoe, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-5be246d3c6881555acb3d71ee1d21d6b.jpg" alt="Photo - Gov. Mary Fallin (second from right) toured by air the 56-mile-long fireline in Drumright Sunday." title="Gov. Mary Fallin (second from right) toured by air the 56-mile-long fireline in Drumright Sunday."><figcaption>Gov. Mary Fallin (second from right) toured by air the 56-mile-long fireline in Drumright Sunday.</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-ffc3e11141aad097a17c68f0aa879f23.jpg" alt="Photo - " title=""><figcaption></figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-f83ef89eadf9f0b58373760325733c9f.jpg" alt="Photo - Doug Roberson looks over damage at the home of Oscar Montelongo on Sunday in Glencoe after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photos by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman" title="Doug Roberson looks over damage at the home of Oscar Montelongo on Sunday in Glencoe after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photos by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman"><figcaption>Doug Roberson looks over damage at the home of Oscar Montelongo on Sunday in Glencoe after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photos by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-ea352554a1eca18449bb487a30179f56.jpg" alt="Photo - Cows gather around a tree in a burned field Sunday in Glencoe, a day after wildfires swept through the area." title="Cows gather around a tree in a burned field Sunday in Glencoe, a day after wildfires swept through the area."><figcaption>Cows gather around a tree in a burned field Sunday in Glencoe, a day after wildfires swept through the area.</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-82dcffe7e2f8654bede9534cda1c3726.jpg" alt="Photo - Jonathan Bell looks Sunday at what is left of a relative's home with his daughter, Abigail, 5, in the Oak Grove community near Drumright after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman SARAH PHIPPS - THE OKLAHOMAN " title="Jonathan Bell looks Sunday at what is left of a relative's home with his daughter, Abigail, 5, in the Oak Grove community near Drumright after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman SARAH PHIPPS - THE OKLAHOMAN "><figcaption>Jonathan Bell looks Sunday at what is left of a relative's home with his daughter, Abigail, 5, in the Oak Grove community near Drumright after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman SARAH PHIPPS - THE OKLAHOMAN </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-383eb031cc75f9a5834c6bf3a52ed3a7.jpg" alt="Photo - A burned car is pictured Sunday in the Oak Grove community near Drumright." title="A burned car is pictured Sunday in the Oak Grove community near Drumright."><figcaption>A burned car is pictured Sunday in the Oak Grove community near Drumright.</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-383eb031cc75f9a5834c6bf3a52ed3a7.jpg" alt="Photo - A car is pictured burned , Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in the community Oak Grove near Drumright, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman" title="A car is pictured burned , Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in the community Oak Grove near Drumright, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman"><figcaption>A car is pictured burned , Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in the community Oak Grove near Drumright, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-e593d7815622a968a408b2dce1e702ef.jpg" alt="Photo - A burned utility pole smolders around burned trees, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in Glencoe, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman" title="A burned utility pole smolders around burned trees, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in Glencoe, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman"><figcaption>A burned utility pole smolders around burned trees, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in Glencoe, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-df0921bc3da1714c0946297f4d2b6660.jpg" alt="Photo - A wood post still burns at a home, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in Glencoe, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman" title="A wood post still burns at a home, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in Glencoe, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman"><figcaption>A wood post still burns at a home, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in Glencoe, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-4fc6ced344dfe2df6fea4decfceb1088.jpg" alt="Photo - A house sits unharmed in the Oak Grove community near Drumright, Okla." title="A house sits unharmed in the Oak Grove community near Drumright, Okla."><figcaption>A house sits unharmed in the Oak Grove community near Drumright, Okla.</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-14c8c3bb399a073373dfd5b12caba766.jpg" alt="Photo - Burned cars are pictured , Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in the community of Oak Grove near Drumright, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman" title="Burned cars are pictured , Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in the community of Oak Grove near Drumright, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman"><figcaption>Burned cars are pictured , Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in the community of Oak Grove near Drumright, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-1c2e9a776eed7f427dc4ad0172a7497c.jpg" alt="Photo - Abigail Bell looks at a relative's burned cars , Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in the community of Oak Grove, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman" title="Abigail Bell looks at a relative's burned cars , Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in the community of Oak Grove, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman"><figcaption>Abigail Bell looks at a relative's burned cars , Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in the community of Oak Grove, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-3da2b213923bce8c108583be11a9cc3d.jpg" alt="Photo - A home is pictured burned , Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in Oak Grove near Drumright, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman" title="A home is pictured burned , Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in Oak Grove near Drumright, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman"><figcaption>A home is pictured burned , Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in Oak Grove near Drumright, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-04199816e2620b4b96b206aff02302f3.jpg" alt="Photo - A burned home is pictured , Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in the Oak Grove community near Drumright, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman" title="A burned home is pictured , Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in the Oak Grove community near Drumright, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman"><figcaption>A burned home is pictured , Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in the Oak Grove community near Drumright, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-46c2b1957cfb271ccf36d3b41257cc28.jpg" alt="Photo - Wildfire damage is pictured , Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in Glencoe, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman" title="Wildfire damage is pictured , Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in Glencoe, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman"><figcaption>Wildfire damage is pictured , Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in Glencoe, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-ea43d532badc9ebc7c3990b979dc3a5b.jpg" alt="Photo - Burned cars are pictured , Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in Oak Grove community in Drumright, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman" title="Burned cars are pictured , Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in Oak Grove community in Drumright, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman"><figcaption>Burned cars are pictured , Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in Oak Grove community in Drumright, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-79ea748305e123c2545c65acede1fec5.jpg" alt="Photo - Gov. Mary Fallin visits with city officials, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in Drumright, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman" title="Gov. Mary Fallin visits with city officials, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in Drumright, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman"><figcaption>Gov. Mary Fallin visits with city officials, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in Drumright, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-2fee50ce43f56f0600e099f933571eb8.jpg" alt="Photo - A home still burns, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in Glencoe, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman" title="A home still burns, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in Glencoe, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman"><figcaption>A home still burns, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in Glencoe, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-cc724d40938632fee4a6a1f1caf6a352.jpg" alt="Photo - Laurilyn Harris surveys the damage at her cousin's home, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in Glencoe, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. " title="Laurilyn Harris surveys the damage at her cousin's home, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in Glencoe, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. "><figcaption>Laurilyn Harris surveys the damage at her cousin's home, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in Glencoe, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-8ffcdfe2a32b35631dfba9b24ec0ab1d.jpg" alt="Photo - Marie Montelongo looks through her burned home, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in Glencoe, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman" title="Marie Montelongo looks through her burned home, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in Glencoe, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman"><figcaption>Marie Montelongo looks through her burned home, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in Glencoe, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-4bdf5ccb6e14384dcccdfb668d883a5d.jpg" alt="Photo - A car sits burned in a field in the Oak Grove community near Drumright, Okla." title="A car sits burned in a field in the Oak Grove community near Drumright, Okla."><figcaption>A car sits burned in a field in the Oak Grove community near Drumright, Okla.</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-81a61639e8b664d2af67f87d510b8852.jpg" alt="Photo - Cows gather around a tree in a burned field, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in Glencoe, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday." title="Cows gather around a tree in a burned field, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in Glencoe, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday."><figcaption>Cows gather around a tree in a burned field, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in Glencoe, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday.</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-b1b7f44754aad47cc48f2f53a59f8b6e.jpg" alt="Photo - A bike lies in ash in a burned home, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in Glencoe, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman" title="A bike lies in ash in a burned home, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in Glencoe, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman"><figcaption>A bike lies in ash in a burned home, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in Glencoe, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-8432a87c9fbc9475a3782f07684cedcc.jpg" alt="Photo - A burned utility poles lies in ash, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in Glencoe, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman" title="A burned utility poles lies in ash, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in Glencoe, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman"><figcaption>A burned utility poles lies in ash, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in Glencoe, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-5055ab63cf9744d3f2b1e85bc8d74b79.jpg" alt="Photo - Jonathan Bell looks at what is left of a relatives home with his daughter Abigail, 5, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in the Oak Grove community near Drumright, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman" title="Jonathan Bell looks at what is left of a relatives home with his daughter Abigail, 5, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in the Oak Grove community near Drumright, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman"><figcaption>Jonathan Bell looks at what is left of a relatives home with his daughter Abigail, 5, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in the Oak Grove community near Drumright, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-aa2bd25f61a6d88c684384bd5361dcec.jpg" alt="Photo - Doug Roberson looks over damage at the home of Oscar Montelongo, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in Glencoe, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday." title="Doug Roberson looks over damage at the home of Oscar Montelongo, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in Glencoe, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday."><figcaption>Doug Roberson looks over damage at the home of Oscar Montelongo, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in Glencoe, Okla., after wildfires moved through the area Saturday.</figcaption></figure>
Juliana Keeping

Juliana Keeping is on the enterprise reporting team for The Oklahoman and NewsOK.com. Keeping joined the staff of The Oklahoman in 2012. Prior to that time, she worked in the Chicago media at the SouthtownStar, winning a Peter Lisagor Award... Read more ›

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