Fort Sill fire lights up nighttime sky

  • Ledger photo by Steve Booker         The Elgin skyline is visible through smoke and flames arising from a fire at Fort Sill that was sparked by Army ordnance disposal activities.

LAWTON – A fire Monday on the east side of Fort Sill illuminated the night sky and generated anxiety among residents of Elgin for several hours.

The volunteer fire departments in Fletcher and Elgin were on alert for a time, just in case they were summoned by Fort Sill, but their assistance was not requested.

Comanche County Emergency Management received “an unknown number of calls” about the fires during business hours, and “at least 12 or more” calls after business hours, Public Information Officer Amy McGlone said Tuesday.

The excitement started with a prescribed burn near the southwest corner of the East Range, Fort Sill Public Affairs Specialist Ygal Kaufman said.

About an hour into that event, a separate fire was reported several miles away on the North Arbuckle range. Fort Sill’s fire department “put out their prescribed burn and went to assess the other situation,” Kaufman related.

The second fire, “which is what was visible to residents in Elgin,” was not a prescribed burn, he said. It was sparked by “normal activities of the 761st Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company conducting their work.”

To control that fire, “A larger backfire was lit” to allow the unplanned fire “to burn out on its own,” Kaufman said. 

Ultimately the large blaze “burned out under the watchful eye and control of the Fort Sill Fire Department,” he said.

Most of the fire “died down before 10 p.m.” Monday and was declared extinguished “before 6:30 a.m.”

Tuesday, Kaufman reported. The fire was contained entirely within the boundaries of Fort Sill, he said.