Her neighbors, Douglas and Rebecca Kolar, spoke with their insurance agent in front of the remains of their home. Rebecca Kolar saw footage of it burning the night before on television.
“They thought the fire was going behind” the neighborhood, she said. “And then the wind shifted, and it was too quick. We couldn’t do anything.”
She said she was able to gather her children, three dogs and some family photos before her house and six others on the street caught fire and burned.
Tracy Streeper was working in Oklahoma City, about 40 miles southwest, when she learned the fire was approaching. Caught in traffic, it took her a long time to reach home and then, “once we got here, we had maybe 30 minutes.”
She grabbed a few clothes, medicine and her three dogs and left quickly.
“Your adrenaline is running. You’re pumped up,” Streeper said. “You could just see a wall of flames coming this way. Everything was on fire.”
Casey Strahan said he went outside after power went out in the home he rents about 4:30 p.m. He looked south and saw smoke rising in the distance. He thought it was moving away from him until police ordered him to leave. He rushed through the house, grabbing clothing, photos and a computer as he went. When he returned Saturday, he found the house burned to the ground.
“I just never thought it was really going to get us,” said Strahan, a softball and girls basketball coach at Luther High School.
The summer in Oklahoma is shaping up to be much like last year’s, with little rainfall, low humidity and temperatures exceeding 110 degrees in many locations. The Oklahoma Forestry Commission said that means it also could be another bad year for wildfires.
“I think it’s going to be right up there, (as among the worst) in memories, at least,” said Michelle Finch-Walker, an agency spokeswoman. She predicted the number of fires could end up being similar to last year, when the agency fought about 1,800 wildfires.
Utility crews that had shut off service to much of Luther spent part of Saturday morning restoring power to homes that weren’t damaged — though Fallin said much of the town was still covered by an evacuation order because of the danger from downed power lines and other infrastructure.
Associated Press writer Ken Miller contributed to this report from Oklahoma City.