UPDATE: Woodpile catches fire in eastern Comanche County

Comanche County_Strong winds roared through Texoma on Thursday.  The gusts were so powerful that many area fire departments were on alert.  Fueled by the wind, a large wood pile in eastern Comanche County caught fire at about 10 AM.  The blaze began behind a barn, and while Bethel and Cox Store Fire Departments responded quickly, the fire burned for at least an hour before they were able to squelch it.  Had the winds blown in the opposite direction, the fire might have damaged a nearby home.

Fire officials urge caution on extremely windy days as even a small spark can ignite a fire.  How it started is a mystery.

Neighbor Rick Lawrence says that when he walked out to feed his dogs, he saw a ball of fire feet away.  "It was a wall of fire," he said.  "That whole thing (wood pile) was going up...it was blowing really fast."  He says it was spreading so quickly, with the wind blowing so furiously that he was in a panic.  "I just screamed, 'Fire!' and called 911," he said.  "But, you know, we're lucky it's not blowing the other way."  Had it been blowing the other direction, Lawrence says he would have been out of luck.  "I'd be wetting my house down right now because this all would be probably in flames," he said.

Cox's Fire Store Assistant Fire Chief Kerry Shriver says it doesn't matter whether a burn ban is in effect - caution always is required whenever fire could be involved.  "Burn ban or no burn ban, they need to be very careful because they're civilly liable for whatever they burn up," he said.  He says even controlled burns are dangerous, and could get out of control.  "The grass is tall, it's still dry," said Shriver.  "If they start something burning, then it's liable to get away from them."

Fire officials say they are not sure what caused the pile of wood to catch fire, but they say they are continuing the investigation.