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© ED BLOCHOWIAK
A grass fire burns west of Shawnee , where fire crews say about 100 acres was charred on Tuesday. While many homes and structures were threatened, no damages were reported.
With several homes threatened by nearby flames, firefighters from multiple departments worked together to get a 100-acre grass fire under control Tuesday in the Bethel Acres area.

With several homes threatened by nearby flames, firefighters from multiple departments worked together to get a 100-acre grass fire under control Tuesday in the Bethel Acres area.

Shawnee Fire Department Battalion Chief Jim VanAntwerp said the fire was in the general area of Walker and Clearpond Roads, which is also the same general area where tornadoes touched down and left so much devastation last year.

He said the fire started in the 17300 block of Walker Road and burned north to Clearpond Road.

"About 10 structures were threatened," he said, but there were no reports of any homes being damaged. The fire crossed Clearpond Road, he said, and smoke was intense as the blazed burned through thick cedar trees.

"You couldn't see the houses," VanAntwerp said, adding most residents in the path of the grass fire self-evacuated their homes to avoid all the smoke in the area.

But a few residents stayed behind.

"Some were trying to protect their homes with a garden hose," VanAntwerp said.

The smoke was thick and at times it was a dangerous situation for those residents, he said.

Firefighters from Shawnee, Tecumseh, McLoud, Pink and Little Axe all responded to assist the Bethel Acres Fire Department at the scene.

As crews battled the blaze Tuesday afternoon, the American Red Cross also dispatched four Shawnee volunteers to the Bethel Acres area to assist fire crews as the wildfire burned close to many homes.

Those volunteers provided snacks, water and Gatorade to fire crews.

"The Red Cross is committed to helping our firefighters to make sure they're getting food and drinks while battling wildfires, house fires or any other activities," said Red Cross Spokesperson Ken Garcia.

While there isn't currently a burn ban in Pottawatomie County, VanAntwerp said conditions are very dry and everyone should be using common sense.

He said it would be a good idea for everyone to utilize a "self-imposed burn ban," because conditions are just too dangerous.

Extreme caution is also urged with anything that could spark a grass fire.

Oklahoma Forestry Services is also urging Oklahomans to be aware that critical fire weather will be present across the state again today, and will most likely remain elevated at least until the weekend. As a result of these conditions, outdoor burning should be avoided until conditions improve.

Warmer temperatures, gusty winds and lower relative humidity have prompted a Red Flag warning for much of the state. Oklahoma Forestry Services monitors immediate weather conditions, as well as long-term weather forecasts, the condition of wildland fuels, current fire behavior and fire occurrences on a daily basis. All of these factors are taken into consideration when making recommendations to the public about fire danger.

"We are asking Oklahomans to pay close attention to the fire weather forecast over the next few days," said George Geissler, Oklahoma State Forester. "For the safety of our citizens and our state's firefighters, we are advising people to avoid outdoor burning until conditions improve."

Oklahoma Forestry Services, a division of the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, is the state's lead agency related to the wildland fire prevention, protection and use. For the latest burn ban and fire information, visit www.forestry.ok.gov