Local fire departments preparing for possible wildfires

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Reported by: Sharon Phillips
Updated: 7/15/2013 9:57 am Published: 7/13/2013 8:41 pm

Wildfires could pop up at any moment, according to Oklahoma Forestry officials.

Now many people have their eyes on Creek County, where wildfires destroyed thousands of acres and hundreds of homes in August 2012.

Now that temperatures are at or above 100 degrees on certain days, the moisture has evaporated, so local fire departments are gearing up for the worst.

In August of last year, the Mannford wildfires destroyed more than 300 homes. This year, the Freedom Hill Fire Department is doing everything it can to prepare for the worst.

Freedom Hill Fire Chief Kevin Smythe has been a firefighter for 32 years now. He tells FOX23 that at times, the wildfires would jump five-lane highways, and at one point a fire was moving a mile every 15 minutes.

"We had a lot of firefighters that went 24-36 hours straight before they got any rest at all," he says.

This year, his team is preparing for the worst.

"We're updating equipment and we have some new grass rigs online and we've improved a lot of our equipment and got new pumps that were damaged last year in the fire," says Smythe.

Firefighter Michael Dunbar remembers what the wildfires did to him physically and emotionally.

"It was rough you know. We had very little sleep and tremendous amounts of stress and pressure," says Dunbar.

Being a volunteer firefighter means no paycheck and countless hours spent away from their families.

"We pray it doesn't happen again and we're just trying to get prepared for it and we hope the people in the community will get prepared for it," says Dunbar.

These crews tell FOX23 that they are working to get more trucks in service so they will have a better first response if another wildfire should pop up.

Right now more than 30 percent of our state is in extreme to exceptional drought.

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