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December 23, 2012

Summit Lakes is evacuated

NORMAN — Crisis was averted when firefighters quickly responded to a grassfire in southeast Norman. With strong winds around 18 miles per hour pushing the wildfire northward, Norman fire and police requested residents in parts of Summit Lakes neighborhood to evacuate on Saturday afternoon.

As Lacy Hampton loaded her crying daughter into their vehicle to leave, she assured the child that this time it would be all right.

“We lost our house in the fire this summer,” Hampton said.

Police blocked off 24th Avenue Southeast between Lindsey and Alameda streets as the Norman Fire Department fought the blaze.

Deputy Fire Chief Jim Bailey said the fire burned between seven and 10 acres, but no structures were damaged. Four Norman fire stations assisted. The call came in around 2:15 Saturday afternoon and firefighters had the blaze under control by 3:30 p.m.

Bailey said there he has no information on how or where the fire started.

“It’s still being investigated,” Bailey said.

Chris Opie, whose mother has lived on the west side of 24th Avenue for a decade, stood in the driveway watching the emergency vehicles come and go as dark gray smoke billowed into the sky.

Opie said the fire had moved across the field very quickly. He said this was not the first fire on the undeveloped land that lies between 24th and the Summit Lakes neighborhood. Near the current fire, blackened and charred trees and limbs still give evidence to past fires.

But Bailey said there have not been any major fires in the area recently. Cedar trees which are destroyed in fire do not regenerate.

“There’s no signs of that there,” he said.

Tall, drought-starved grasses and woody vegetation mean an abundant fuel source. Combined with strong winds, fire danger remains high.

Joy Hampton366-3539jhampton@normantranscript.com

 

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