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Fire rip through Jackson County

Despite being part of a burn ban, Jackson County caught the brunt of what were forecast to be "historic" red-flag fire conditions Saturday.

Several structures fell to flame in the town of Martha. Its roughly 160 inhabitants were forced to evacuate Saturday and into Sunday. Although the fire was under control by Saturday night, residents weren't let back to their homes until Sunday due to power and gas being cut to the town for safety.

A multi-county mutual aid response of neighboring full-time as well as a cadre of volunteer fire departments from throughout Southwest Oklahoma answered the call to assist in fighting the devastation. The Oklahoma Forestry Service provided a Suppression Group comprised of four bulldozers and eight Type 6 fire engines were sent to assist with the fire. It was reported by

Investigators said the fire began in a cotton nodule near the town, located north and west of Altus. Before being corralled under control Saturday night, the fire burned at least 15 homes, abandoned structures and businesses. A number of firefighters also suffered heat exhaustion from the fight.

Josie Doughty said she and her husband Nelson found a way into Martha following the evacuation. They both grew up in the town and, with an all-terrain Jeep, were able to get there to check on their home. She said there was a lot of smoke. But when she saw through it, she said she wished she'd never seen so clearly. She likened it to televised images of those large wildfires you'll often see from the West Coast.

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