The Edmond Sun

Local News

August 6, 2012

Luther fire victims begin recovery process

LUTHER — Logan Renner stood on ashes and debris in what used to be his bedroom. While he looked for a pair of sneakers, sunlight poured through what used to be the roof. Behind the foundation, burned trees and an ash-covered slope were visible through what used to be walls.

Renner, 17, who starts his senior year at Luther High School on Thursday, said it had been the family home for 17 years. Like other victims of the fire that damaged 47 structures in the area, he was looking for anything salvageable.

On Friday, when the wildfire was moving toward the home, he got a call from his sister who told him to get to the house on S. Dogwood. At the time, given the direction of the wind, he didn’t think the home was in danger.

“She yelled at me enough to where I was ‘OK, I’ll do it,’” Renner recalled.

He came home, retrieved all the photographs he could along with other family valuables into his truck. While he was keeping an eye on the fire, his aunt and uncle came by and confirmed it was headed his way. Renner got everything else out of the house he could, including the family’s three dogs.

When the fire was literally behind his house, officers were enforcing an evacuation order. He went to a local gas station, from which he could see the flames from the approaching fire.

“We saw this huge fire and we thought half the town was already burned down,” Renner said.

He was watching the news coverage and knew his home was burning when he recognized the tree in the front yard. On Saturday, when family members came back to look at the house, it was still smoldering.

“It was pretty devastating,” he said. “But I’m amazed at how many people came and offered to help us out as much as possible.”

Some girls from Wellston even came by and gave the family a couple of dollars.

Russ Bishop, pastor at Edmond’s Lighthouse Baptist Church, 3717 N. Bryant Ave., was one of the many area residents who came to the aid of the victims. He recalled being at a scene where a man was watching his home burn. The man had just finished renovating it that day, Bishop said.

Friday and Saturday were intense days for Oklahoma firefighters. On Monday, the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry released a fire situation report.

Numerous fire departments, Oklahoma Foresty Services, the Oklahoma Army National Guard aircraft and other agencies responded to the Luther fire. Interstate 44 was closed for several hours Friday evening. The fire’s mapped acreage was 2,621 acres.

In Blaine County, one home was lost to a fire.

In Grady County, no report had been received as to the number of structures lost.

In Creek County, numerous structures were reported lost to a fire that burned 58,500 acres. On Monday, firefighters were working to secure the fire’s perimeter, mop up around structures and reduce threats of the fire’s escape.

In Cleveland County, fire departments were supported by Oklahoma Army National Guard helicopters equipped with buckets to attempt to contain that fire. The fire had burned about 7,900 acres as of 11 a.m. Saturday. Substantial fire growth occurred on Sunday, with no estimate received on the additional acreage burned. No report has been received at the time of the report as to the cause or the number of structures lost.

In Payne County, numerous structures were lost in the Glencoe area. No report had been received as to the cause or the acres burned.

Numerous other significant fires occurred during the reporting period. No damager reports were available on fires in Kiowa County, Yale, Shawnee and Cushing.

With temperatures in excess of 100 degrees and humidity in the 15 percent to 20 percent range, fire danger Monday was high to extreme across Oklahoma, according to the fire situation report. Any fire starting would burn intensely with rapid rates of spread, especially where terrain and winds align.   

A governor’s burn ban continues to be in effect for all of Oklahoma. Report any suspicious wildland fire activity on the Arson Tip Line at 1-866-662-7766 (1-866-NO ARSON).

marks@edmondsun.com | 341-2121, ext. 108

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