LAWTON, Okla. - A fire at the Republic Paperboard Plant in Lawton has been burning for hours, Friday, and because of all the paper products, it has enough fuel to burn for a long time.
The paper plant is located at the 8800 block of Lee and has been on fire since around 1 p.m. Friday. A witness says the building itself has not caught fire, but a large stack of cardboard next to the building has.
The fire was bad enough for several drivers on Lee Blvd. to pull over and check out the flames for themselves. 7News is told no one has been injured. Right now firefighters and employees are focused on putting the fire out so it cannot spread to the building itself.
Shaunna Burrow says she was visiting a home miles away from the paper plant when she spotted a huge cloud of smoke.
"He said, ‘baby girl,' I said. ‘What daddy?' he said, ‘that's the paper plant'," said Burrow.
Burrow says she jumped in her car and raced to the plant, worried that people were trapped inside.
"I went into a severe panic and anxiety attack, my heart dropped to my chest," said Burrow.
Then she realized the fire had not spread to the building. Fortunately, it had only gone as far as the cardboard stacks. Even so, the sight was overwhelming.
"Smoke was coming at us. We had big ole pieces of cardboard that's burned coming at us. We were getting misted like we were in a misting shower."
Burrow says in the two hours she stayed to watch the fire, she saw employees and firefighters dousing the cardboard with water and moving other undamaged stacks away from the fire, but she said it was hard to see much progress in fighting the blaze.
"The fire has seemed to get better at one moment and is back up the nest, then gets better and then it gets back up."
A Lawton Firefighter says at one time, seven units were on the scene. He says there are many hydrants throughout the property and that is where water is being pumped. As our 7News crew left, representatives from Emergency Management were arriving. Calls to the company were not immediately answered.
The paper company's website says it employs around 130 people. It has been in operation in Lawton since 1999. There is no word yet on how the fire will affect operations, but count on 7News to keep you updated as the story develops.