RATLIFF CITY, OK - Flames burn over 2,000 acres of land Wednesday afternoon near a Carter County community. Major grassfires have been burning in Ratliff City for most of the day. Robin Beal was on the scene all afternoon and shows us how people in that tight-knit community are recovering.
“I’ve never seen nothing like that in my life. “ “Sure was hot.”
Meet Jason Oliver, 30-years-old and proud owner of a service station, right on the main drag in Ratliff City. Its a service station that almost didn’t make it through Wednesday afternoon.
“I mean you could stand out here and feel the heat coming off the fire there in the back and the glow. Yeah I thought it was over.”
“Right next to these gas pumps?”
“Right next to these gas pumps.”
He says the flames were taller than the trees behind his business at one point. “And the firefighters were out there fighting it and they had the mask and stuff on and they was fighting that fire like this. I don’t see how they did it, it’s unbelievable.”
The people two houses down weren’t quite as lucky. The shed behind their home burnt to the ground, along with a prized classic El Camino which was parked inside, with 5,000 actual miles on it. This is all that’s left. Pages of a novel flutter in the evening breeze, also a casualty of the flames. But it wasn’t for lack of trying.
“Roughly 45 minutes ago our water tower went dry. It’s about 53,000 gallons between the bowl and the stand and we have depleted it completely.”
This little guy, a racoon, had to take refuge high above the ground, to escape the flames. No word on how his house fared, but he was still there when we left.
Chief Thornton called this the worst grassfire the area has seen this year. During our time with him he brought up a very good point that’s often lost in stories like this. Of the more than 120 firefighters, men and women, who responded, over 90% are volunteers.
They don’t get paid. They leave their jobs and families when the pager goes off, and today they saved their community.