By Matt Montgomery
This past Sunday afternoon, a grass fire started on the property of Dodge City Paintball just south of Gregory Road and the Northwest Expressway.
Luckily, the fire didn’t catch any of the buildings or structures on fire and was mostly contained in the fields on the property by area fire departments.
Piedmont Fire Chief Andy Logan said the fire was an intense fire that was difficult to contain because of high winds.
“It was very hard to contain,” Logan said. “The wind speeds at that time were 25 to 30 mph and the fire load was extremely heavy.”
Logan said the fire was started in an area that in and of itself was a difficult area to put out a fire. He said the area in a deep creek bed was an area where the F-5 tornado went through in 2011, so there was a lot of dead timber and debris that fueled the fire.
“It was a very tough fire to fight,’ he said. “There were two structures that were in danger,” he said. “But, luckily were able to save both of those, so that was good.”
Logan said it was the Okarche Fire Department who was called to the scene first, then Piedmont, Deer Creek and Oklahoma City fire departments joined in on the fight to extinguish the fire.
He said there was about 100 acres of grass and hey bales burned.
Logan added that this fire took maybe 10 hours to extinguish.
“Okarche released us about 6 o’clock that evening and I couldn’t even tell you how long they were out there after that,” Logan said. “I’d say there was a good 10 hours of fire fight on that one.”
Logan said the initial call came in about 2 o’clock that day.
Employees at Dodge City Paintball were burning trash, Logan said, and the fire origin point was close to the area they were burning the trash.
Logan said nobody should be burning trash right now, even if they have a burn permit.
“Burning trash would be very ill-advised right now or any outdoor burning,” he said. “Even if you have a burn permit in Piedmont, we’re not allowing any outdoor burning. The seven-day outlook, we’re either in a moderate or high fire danger.”
Even though central Oklahoma is not officially in a drought, Logan said, this time of year dormant vegetation mixed with low humidity levels and high wind speeds are perfect ingredients for wild fires.
Dodge City Paintball released this statement on their website: “Today by the grace of GOD, we avoided major disaster again. We had a fire burn out the creek and grass on land not being used for Paintball. No one was hurt and no structures on anyone’s land got hit. Fire departments were awesome and did the awesome job they do. Winds kept it from all courses and just some tall grass and downed trees burnt. It cleaned out the creeks from the tornado damage two years ago. Ember or cigarette may have been a culprit, not sure.”
A spokesperson from Dodge City Paintball could not be reached for comment by press time.