Blazing across Oklahoma


Photo Provided

The fires caused a great deal of damage, coming close to many buildings, including Dance Unlimited which is photographed here.

Kelsi Seltenreich, Managing Editor

Living in Oklahoma comes with facing a variety of weather conditions. Between having high temperature changes in short time spans to being a major part of tornado alley, Oklahomans experience a multitude of inconveniences and frights due to the weather, but on Friday, March 31, dry conditions and high winds mixed together, hitting Sooner State with a rare and dangerous type of disaster for Oklahoma: wildfires.

Throughout the course of the afternoon, there were fires popping up around the community, including ones on Hefner Road, Sooner Road, North East 122nd St. and many others. Many Edmond Memorial High School Bulldogs were directly impacted by these fires.

Senior English teacher, Kelly Bristow, almost lost her home to one of these fires as it came scarily close to the interior of her home. As the fire came closer to her house, all she could think about was arriving home in time to bring her pet to safety.

“What worried me wasn’t our things,” Bristow said. “Our dog, Luna, was in the house with no way to get out. As I sped north on I-35, sometimes driving on the shoulder, sometimes driving in the grass, all I could think about was saving her.”

Once Bristow was able to reach the evacuated area to rescue Luna from the fire quickly approaching her house, she watched as smoke covered her home, hoping her house hadn’t caught fire.

“This fire destroyed two homes just south of me and another one to the east. Flames charred grass in my front yard, no more than eight feet from the front door, and along both sides of the north fence, no more than 12 feet from my home,” Bristow said. “It ignited my woodpile, getting hot enough to creep up an ancient, living black walnut tree, but thankfully, our home was spared.”

While firefighters were working tirelessly to limit the effects of these fires, there were many others ablaze across town. Each of these disasters affected Bulldogs in many ways, including the fire on Hefner Road. For students that take class at Dance Unlimited, there were many emotions while watching the news, hoping their second home would remain safe.

“The studio’s building is only six years old, and I even got to sign the metal framing before the brick went up. The studio is my home, and it’s the place I get to be my best self,” senior Riley Graves said. “Watching the news and seeing all these families and businesses scared for their homes and buildings made me feel even more anxious.”

The fire ended up reaching all the way to the bricks of the south and west sides of the dance studio, and it stopped inches away from the east wall. This wall is made up of compressed foam, which is highly flammable, and if the fire had reached it, the studio may no longer be standing.

While there were many buildings the fires did not take, some structures were not as lucky.

This update from the Oklahoma City Fire Department from March 31 at 6:47 p.m. is only in reference to the Northeast Oklahoma fire, one of many destructive wildfires that day.

“We are currently reporting three structures that are totaled and one structure with minor damage. Firefighters are still working to bring the fire under control,” OKC Fire Department’s Instagram account said.

March 31, 2023,  was a frightening day for citizens across Oklahoma, and people are thankful for the various fire department’s across the area for their efforts to keep people safe.

“I am eternally grateful for the firefighters,” Bristow said. “These heroes put their lives on the line and saved my home and many others.”

Contact Kelsi Seltenreich at [email protected]