NORMAN — Editor’s note: Jack Holt is 81 years old and has lived on the same piece of land at Duke and Cedar Lane for 23 years. Holt, a Navy veteran and former owner of Thunderbird Stables, and his wife, Donna, weathered the firestorm that swept southeastern Cleveland County, losing little more than a bit of fence. Variations of this story can be told by countless other Cleveland County residents, but here is the Holts’ story in Jack’s own words.
Aug. 3, 2012, (our anniversary of 49 years).
Donna and I were to be at Tom and Judy’s house in Moore for supper in honor of our anniversary.
A fire had started right after lunch at Maguire Road and 120th. Wind was out of the south, so the fire was coming north toward us. By mid-afternoon, we could see and smell the smoke. At about 5 p.m., Rex Bernard (close friend) called and said they were being evacuated as the fire was about a mile south of them (at Cash Road). Rex, Susan and a neighbor came to our house. They had been here for only 20 minutes when a police car pulled in and told us to evacuate as the fire was headed straight for us. We had previously packed our bags and valuable papers already in the car and took off fast. We went on to Tom’s and Judy’s house and had supper. We arranged to spend the night at Mary Higgins’ house in Norman.
They closed Highway 9 in Norman. They had evacuated a 10-square-mile area. 120th on the west (later to 84th) to 156th on the east. Maguire Road on the south all the way to the lake on the north. They would not even let the media in to take pictures. There was a bad fire in the town of Luther (east of Jones and Oklahoma City) that was being covered at the same time and the media was there so it dominated the news.