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Oklahoma wildfires take a toll on fire departments

— After battling wildfires for four days straight and becoming involved in a full-blown arson investigation, Norman Fire Chief James Fullingim said the resources of his department are being fully utilized.

And then some.

Along with the financial strain, due to overtime and increased use of materials, the wear and tear on the department's firefighters — and the machines they use to do their jobs — is considerable.

“It definitely strains your resources. … Both the men and the equipment are stressed when something like this happens,” Fullingim said. “There are many of them, over the weekend … over a 72-hour period … worked over 50 hours.”

Fullingim said Norman firefighters typically work 12-hour shifts then return 12 hours later.

“In this case, that didn't happen,” he said. “We had many people who were out there for 20-plus hours.”

The wildfires keeping Norman firefighters busy have been intense, destroying scores of structures and roughly 8,000 acres of land. A body found by the Norman Fire Department could lead to more serious charges.

Physical injury

Despite the hazards, Fullingim said only one Norman firefighter had suffered an injury since Friday, a sprained ankle and possibly a broken foot.

He said heat-related issues are rare with Norman firefighters because they are constantly monitored by paramedics when they are in the field.

Indeed, when a small grassfire started burning near the Thunderbird Riding Stables on Monday afternoon, a paramedic was taken to the scene using a four-wheeler. A man carrying a large cooler full of water and Gatorade followed.

“They keep a close eye on them when they're out there,” Fullingim said. “We have EMSTAT with us all the time.”

Active cooling

Departments statewide prepare their firefighters for the stress of wildfires and other emergencies using a variety of tactics.

Oklahoma City Fire Department safety officer Jimmy Schiner said when fighting structure fires with bunker gear and breathing apparatus on, a firefighter may be carrying 60 extra pounds. The extreme summer heat just adds to the issue.

They certainly stress the need to hydrate well before the alarm sounds, he said. But Schiner said they also try to think about a firefighter's core temperature.

Schiner said Oklahoma City firefighters have been allowed since about late July to wear shorts and a shirt made of wicking material under their fire protective suit.

“The fire protection comes from their fire suit,” Schiner said. “So we were better off trying to reduce their core temperatures inside those fire suits.

“We also have chairs that we use during rehab you can stick your forearms in that have cooled water. That is active cooling.

“The difference between passive cooling and active cooling is time. We can reduce your core temperature down faster with active cooling than we would if you just took your gear off and let yourself cool naturally with the air.”

Schiner said they are always looking for new ways to help their firefighters prepare and rehab as they battle fires and the extreme heat.

Ready before the call

Mike Norman prepares for fighting wildfires by stopping by the store each day to buy a bag or two of ice.

He'll pack three to four Gatorades and a half-dozen bottles of water in the ice chest he keeps in the back of his service truck.

By trade, Norman is a diesel mechanic for commercial construction equipment.

But by a commitment to public service, he's the fire chief of the Amber Volunteer Fire Department.

It's obvious that fires bring heat. But while firefighters are battling the heat of the blaze, they also are fighting the effects of triple-digit heat. One way to fight is to hydrate. And while that's a key for any firefighter, sometimes a volunteer firefighter's full-time job may require him to be outside all day. That's the case for Norman.

“That's something I picked up on a long time ago, is hydrating when I first get out of bed and throughout the day, just stick with it,” he said. “Prepare yourself prior to that fire.”

This year, one difference he's noticed is that the fires they've assisted with have been bigger fires with more longevity. Instead of a few hours, they've worked for 14 to 24 hours. There are departments battling fires for several days in a row.

When Norman is working at an incident command post, he'll watch firefighters who return from the fire to determine if they need rest before going back.

“I'm looking at these guys,” he said. “I'm looking at their skin. I'm looking at their pupils.”

He said most seasoned firefighters can recognize these things themselves. But sometimes individuals such as rookies will just keep going, Norman said.

“Overall, we've been able to manage it pretty well,” he said, “and it really starts with really hydrating.”

Related Photos
Newalla firefighter Chris Peeples is re-hydrated Friday in a rehab room. Peeples was one of three Newalla firefighters sent Friday to help Luther firefighters with a large wildfire. Photos by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman

Newalla firefighter Chris Peeples is re-hydrated Friday in a rehab room. Peeples was one of three Newalla firefighters sent Friday to help Luther firefighters with a large wildfire. Photos by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-09a2e3d692b49bfbe80ea392c429c9b9.jpg" alt="Photo - Newalla firefighter Chris Peeples is re-hydrated Friday in a rehab room. Peeples was one of three Newalla firefighters sent Friday to help Luther firefighters with a large wildfire. Photos by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman" title="Newalla firefighter Chris Peeples is re-hydrated Friday in a rehab room. Peeples was one of three Newalla firefighters sent Friday to help Luther firefighters with a large wildfire. Photos by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman"><figcaption>Newalla firefighter Chris Peeples is re-hydrated Friday in a rehab room. Peeples was one of three Newalla firefighters sent Friday to help Luther firefighters with a large wildfire. Photos by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-5f8884850068c53f8993b20785b83a09.jpg" alt="Photo - Above: A Norman firefighter gives bottles of cold water to fellow firefighters Monday as they battle flare-ups in Cleveland County." title="Above: A Norman firefighter gives bottles of cold water to fellow firefighters Monday as they battle flare-ups in Cleveland County."><figcaption>Above: A Norman firefighter gives bottles of cold water to fellow firefighters Monday as they battle flare-ups in Cleveland County.</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-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/r960-2fee50ce43f56f0600e099f933571eb8.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><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-71797e2538c942926321360f29a97e62.jpg" alt="Photo - A Norman firefighter gives bottles of cold water to fellow firefighters inside a firetruck as they prepare to venture into a heavily wooded area north of SH 9 near Lake Thunderbird to extinguish flare-ups. Norman firefighters continued to extinguish small grass fires on Monday, Aug. 6, 2012, three days after a massive wildfire scorched more than 10 square miles of dry land, destroying dozens of homes and structures as it swept across rural sections of southeast Cleveland County. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman." title="A Norman firefighter gives bottles of cold water to fellow firefighters inside a firetruck as they prepare to venture into a heavily wooded area north of SH 9 near Lake Thunderbird to extinguish flare-ups. Norman firefighters continued to extinguish small grass fires on Monday, Aug. 6, 2012, three days after a massive wildfire scorched more than 10 square miles of dry land, destroying dozens of homes and structures as it swept across rural sections of southeast Cleveland County. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman."><figcaption>A Norman firefighter gives bottles of cold water to fellow firefighters inside a firetruck as they prepare to venture into a heavily wooded area north of SH 9 near Lake Thunderbird to extinguish flare-ups. Norman firefighters continued to extinguish small grass fires on Monday, Aug. 6, 2012, three days after a massive wildfire scorched more than 10 square miles of dry land, destroying dozens of homes and structures as it swept across rural sections of southeast Cleveland County. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman.</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-925a66eaefa24636a0642a079b5891ef.jpg" alt="Photo - Father and son who both are named Tim Jones (not junior or senior) make temporary repairs to the front exterior of their mobile home after wildfires damaged it Friday. Homes surrounding their property had burned to the ground. The Jones' home escaped with minor damage to vinyl siding and skirting caused by the intense heat of the flames. Firefighters pulled burning wooden stairs (foreground) from the front of the home, preventing the structure from catching fire. Norman firefighters continued to extinguish small grass fires on Monday, Aug. 6, 2012, three days after a massive wildfire scorched more than 10 square miles of dry land, destroying dozens of homes and structures as it swept across rural sections of southeast Cleveland County. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman." title="Father and son who both are named Tim Jones (not junior or senior) make temporary repairs to the front exterior of their mobile home after wildfires damaged it Friday. Homes surrounding their property had burned to the ground. The Jones' home escaped with minor damage to vinyl siding and skirting caused by the intense heat of the flames. Firefighters pulled burning wooden stairs (foreground) from the front of the home, preventing the structure from catching fire. Norman firefighters continued to extinguish small grass fires on Monday, Aug. 6, 2012, three days after a massive wildfire scorched more than 10 square miles of dry land, destroying dozens of homes and structures as it swept across rural sections of southeast Cleveland County. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman."><figcaption>Father and son who both are named Tim Jones (not junior or senior) make temporary repairs to the front exterior of their mobile home after wildfires damaged it Friday. Homes surrounding their property had burned to the ground. The Jones' home escaped with minor damage to vinyl siding and skirting caused by the intense heat of the flames. Firefighters pulled burning wooden stairs (foreground) from the front of the home, preventing the structure from catching fire. Norman firefighters continued to extinguish small grass fires on Monday, Aug. 6, 2012, three days after a massive wildfire scorched more than 10 square miles of dry land, destroying dozens of homes and structures as it swept across rural sections of southeast Cleveland County. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman.</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-0e2756dbaa0c1cf9d387a00bd181665b.jpg" alt="Photo - Neal Wood, 50. and his daughter, Melissa Wood, 26, search through the ashen rubble that was her bedroom until their home was destroyed by fire on Friday. She lived with her young daughter in her parents' home in southeast Cleveland County. Norman firefighters continued to extinguish small grass fires on Monday, Aug. 6, 2012, three days after a massive wildfire scorched more than 10 square miles of dry land, destroying dozens of homes and structures as it swept across rural sections of southeast Cleveland County. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman." title="Neal Wood, 50. and his daughter, Melissa Wood, 26, search through the ashen rubble that was her bedroom until their home was destroyed by fire on Friday. She lived with her young daughter in her parents' home in southeast Cleveland County. Norman firefighters continued to extinguish small grass fires on Monday, Aug. 6, 2012, three days after a massive wildfire scorched more than 10 square miles of dry land, destroying dozens of homes and structures as it swept across rural sections of southeast Cleveland County. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman."><figcaption>Neal Wood, 50. and his daughter, Melissa Wood, 26, search through the ashen rubble that was her bedroom until their home was destroyed by fire on Friday. She lived with her young daughter in her parents' home in southeast Cleveland County. Norman firefighters continued to extinguish small grass fires on Monday, Aug. 6, 2012, three days after a massive wildfire scorched more than 10 square miles of dry land, destroying dozens of homes and structures as it swept across rural sections of southeast Cleveland County. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman.</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-52783674d480eb654fca16c34fca389a.jpg" alt="Photo - Norman firefighters get a short rest between battling hot spots in heavily wooded areas along SH 9 near Lake Thunderbird Monday afternoon. Norman firefighters continued to extinguish small grass fires on Monday, Aug. 6, 2012, three days after a massive wildfire scorched more than 10 square miles of dry land, destroying dozens of homes and structures as it swept across rural sections of southeast Cleveland County. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman." title="Norman firefighters get a short rest between battling hot spots in heavily wooded areas along SH 9 near Lake Thunderbird Monday afternoon. Norman firefighters continued to extinguish small grass fires on Monday, Aug. 6, 2012, three days after a massive wildfire scorched more than 10 square miles of dry land, destroying dozens of homes and structures as it swept across rural sections of southeast Cleveland County. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman."><figcaption>Norman firefighters get a short rest between battling hot spots in heavily wooded areas along SH 9 near Lake Thunderbird Monday afternoon. Norman firefighters continued to extinguish small grass fires on Monday, Aug. 6, 2012, three days after a massive wildfire scorched more than 10 square miles of dry land, destroying dozens of homes and structures as it swept across rural sections of southeast Cleveland County. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman.</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-74c13527856eb40c5fce05012e9f7dcf.jpg" alt="Photo - Father and son who both are named Tim Jones (not junior or senior) make temporary repairs to the front exterior of their mobile home after wildfires damaged it Friday. Homes surrounding their property had burned to the ground. The Jones' home escaped with minor damage to vinyl siding and skirting caused by the intense heat of the flames. Firefighters pulled burning wooden stairs (foreground) from the front of the home, preventing the structure from catching fire. Norman firefighters continued to extinguish small grass fires on Monday, Aug. 6, 2012, three days after a massive wildfire scorched more than 10 square miles of dry land, destroying dozens of homes and structures as it swept across rural sections of southeast Cleveland County. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman." title="Father and son who both are named Tim Jones (not junior or senior) make temporary repairs to the front exterior of their mobile home after wildfires damaged it Friday. Homes surrounding their property had burned to the ground. The Jones' home escaped with minor damage to vinyl siding and skirting caused by the intense heat of the flames. Firefighters pulled burning wooden stairs (foreground) from the front of the home, preventing the structure from catching fire. Norman firefighters continued to extinguish small grass fires on Monday, Aug. 6, 2012, three days after a massive wildfire scorched more than 10 square miles of dry land, destroying dozens of homes and structures as it swept across rural sections of southeast Cleveland County. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman."><figcaption>Father and son who both are named Tim Jones (not junior or senior) make temporary repairs to the front exterior of their mobile home after wildfires damaged it Friday. Homes surrounding their property had burned to the ground. The Jones' home escaped with minor damage to vinyl siding and skirting caused by the intense heat of the flames. Firefighters pulled burning wooden stairs (foreground) from the front of the home, preventing the structure from catching fire. Norman firefighters continued to extinguish small grass fires on Monday, Aug. 6, 2012, three days after a massive wildfire scorched more than 10 square miles of dry land, destroying dozens of homes and structures as it swept across rural sections of southeast Cleveland County. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman.</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-0e2756dbaa0c1cf9d387a00bd181665b.jpg" alt="Photo - Neal Wood, 50. and his daughter, Melissa Wood, 26, search through the ashen rubble that was her bedroom until their home was destroyed by fire on Friday. She lived with her young daughter in her parents' home in southeast Cleveland County. Norman firefighters continued to extinguish small grass fires on Monday, Aug. 6, 2012, three days after a massive wildfire scorched more than 10 square miles of dry land, destroying dozens of homes and structures as it swept across rural sections of southeast Cleveland County. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman." title="Neal Wood, 50. and his daughter, Melissa Wood, 26, search through the ashen rubble that was her bedroom until their home was destroyed by fire on Friday. She lived with her young daughter in her parents' home in southeast Cleveland County. Norman firefighters continued to extinguish small grass fires on Monday, Aug. 6, 2012, three days after a massive wildfire scorched more than 10 square miles of dry land, destroying dozens of homes and structures as it swept across rural sections of southeast Cleveland County. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman."><figcaption>Neal Wood, 50. and his daughter, Melissa Wood, 26, search through the ashen rubble that was her bedroom until their home was destroyed by fire on Friday. She lived with her young daughter in her parents' home in southeast Cleveland County. Norman firefighters continued to extinguish small grass fires on Monday, Aug. 6, 2012, three days after a massive wildfire scorched more than 10 square miles of dry land, destroying dozens of homes and structures as it swept across rural sections of southeast Cleveland County. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman.</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-015cc5c35f74537d888ed7aef2d283a6.jpg" alt="Photo - Neal Wood, 50, walks among the ashes and charred remains of his home where he and his family have lived for 18 years. Everything in the home was destroyed in the fire. Norman firefighters continued to extinguish small grass fires on Monday, Aug. 6, 2012, three days after a massive wildfire scorched more than 10 square miles of dry land, destroying dozens of homes and structures as it swept across rural sections of southeast Cleveland County. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman." title="Neal Wood, 50, walks among the ashes and charred remains of his home where he and his family have lived for 18 years. Everything in the home was destroyed in the fire. Norman firefighters continued to extinguish small grass fires on Monday, Aug. 6, 2012, three days after a massive wildfire scorched more than 10 square miles of dry land, destroying dozens of homes and structures as it swept across rural sections of southeast Cleveland County. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman."><figcaption>Neal Wood, 50, walks among the ashes and charred remains of his home where he and his family have lived for 18 years. Everything in the home was destroyed in the fire. Norman firefighters continued to extinguish small grass fires on Monday, Aug. 6, 2012, three days after a massive wildfire scorched more than 10 square miles of dry land, destroying dozens of homes and structures as it swept across rural sections of southeast Cleveland County. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman.</figcaption></figure>
Andrew Knittle

Andrew Knittle has covered state water issues, tribal concerns and major criminal proceedings during his career as an Oklahoma journalist. He has won reporting awards from the state's Associated Press bureau and prides himself on finding a real... Read more ›

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