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The Shawnee News-Star
  • Fire update: Therapy program horses remained calm, safe as grass fire approached

  • As many residents evacuated the Earlsboro area as a grass fire burned a two-mile-long path Sunday, volunteers with the C-Bar Horsemanship Therapeutic Program scrambled to keep their horses safe.


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  • As many residents evacuated the Earlsboro area as a grass fire burned a two-mile-long path Sunday, volunteers with the C-Bar Horsemanship Therapeutic Program scrambled to keep their horses safe.
    Charla Bundy, horsemanship director, said she approached the area and couldn’t believe how big the fire actually was, calling it a miracle the horses were spared and no damage occurred to equipment on land they use in the area of SH 9A and Hardesty Road.
    “It looks like God put a finger out here and drew a line and said, ‘don’t cross it,’” she said.
    She thanked firefighters for the amazing job they did to save their area, as well as the work they did to save so many homes.
    It was a bit chaotic when they first arrived, she said, as she received help from volunteers and planned to evacuate the herd, with help from Dr. Chuck Bowlan, a veterinarian.
    With 10 horses in three different pastures, they braved the thick smoke and worked all of the horses into a specific area, she said, with volunteers leading two horses each.
    With fire consuming vehicles and parts at wholesale and salvage storage area nearby, she said there were explosions, chaos and sounds from the fire all around, yet the horses didn’t instinctively run.
    All 10 were put into pens and arenas on sandy soil away from the wooded areas, she said, based on counsel from the veterinarian, which was a “good call” as the fire changed directions.
    “It’s amazing when grace comes pouring your way,” she said. “We were blessed when the fire did change directions…it passed down the street in front of us.”
    And despite all the commotion from the fire, Bundy said she’s proud the horses remained calm and just began to graze when moved during hectic circumstances.
    “That tickled my heart,” she said, adding their training with the horses has built trusting relationships.
    With help from volunteers and resources, the C-Bar Horsemanship Therapeutic program  helps children and adults with physical, emotional, cognitive, spiritual, social or educational needs.
    During the fire, evacuations were ordered for 20 to 30 homes between Crosslin Road and SH 9A and between Hardesty and Benson Park roads.
    Overall, the fire traveled about a two-mile path and was about one-mile wide, with fire-damaged areas reported to almost Bob Crouch Road.
    Barns and outbuildings were reported as losses, but other than one vacant and abandoned house, fire crews reportedly saved all homes threatened by the blaze.
    Firefighters estimated about 650 to 700 acres burned.
    Trash being burned was determined as cause of the blaze, said Tecumseh Fire Chief Aaron Williams.
    At the time of the fire, there was no burn ban in place to prevent burning of trash, but Pottawatomie County commissioners on Monday enacted a 30-day countywide burn ban, making it illegal for anyone to burn trash or have any type of outdoor burning, including campfires.
    Page 2 of 2 - Fire crews from all Pottawatomie County fire departments as well as those from nearby areas, including the Cleveland County Task force, worked together to get the blaze under control with help from water drops by an Oklahoma National Guard CH-47 Chinook helicopter.
    Firefighters urge everyone to be cautious as extreme drought and fire conditions remain.
    Oklahoma Forestry Services offers a guide for those affected by wildfires, including steps they can take steps to recover.
    OFS also gives advice on creating a Firewise property, especially around homes.
    Some of those tips include keeping gutters free of leaves and debris, clearing dead wood and vegetation from an area at least 30 feet from your home and moving firewood away from the house. Tips also are provided for landscaping as well.
    Learn more at: http://www.forestry.ok.gov
     
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