Wind is spreading fire up to a mile in eight minutes making it nearly impossible for firefighters to get a handle on the fires that have already consumed 366,000 acres and killed at least one individual in Western Oklahoma. While many communities have been affected, one of the hardest hit is Vici, Oklahoma. A fire in Dewey County where the city is located is over 28 miles long and seven miles wide.
Residents of Vici have been working together to try to help each other get out of harm’s way. While Superintendent of Schools Doctor Coby Nelson normally spends the day sitting behind a desk, that was not the case as fires threatened his town. He says that the decision to use school buses to evacuate nursing home residents was not difficult when their residence was threatened by the fires. He and his staff loaded buses and took the residents to the nearby community of Shattuck, Oklahoma, at 1 AM.
Then, he returned to Vici and helped family and ranchers turn cattle lose from the burning pastures. Despite his and his neighbors best efforts, many head of cattle can be seen dead in pastures burned by the wildfires. The Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Foundation and the Farm Service Agency are coordinating efforts with the local county extension agents to deliver hay and feed to those cattle remaining alive after the fire. Over eight ranch homes and hundreds of miles of fencing have burned to the ground. Despite a full day, Nelson was later seen comforting a teacher who had lost all of her property.
Nelson was also responsible for opening the Vici Public Schools to evacuees giving them and first responders a place to take a shower, rest and get some food. The American Red Cross has opened an evacuation center where people can stay, get supplies. Those who are interested in helping people impacted by the fire can also contact the Vici Public Schools who are coordinating efforts to see that everyone gets supplies as needed.