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Snyder fire causes widespread damage

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SNYDER, Okla._A massive fire broke out Friday in downtown Snyder, destroying a storage building and damaging an office used by the Snyder Public Schools right next door.

The fire started around 10:15 Friday morning when the Snyder Fire Department responded to a call of flames jutting out of a large storage building at the corner of 8th and "E" street. Fueled by extreme high winds and very dry conditions, the blaze quickly took over the entire building, prompting crews to seek emergency backup.

It was so large that just one block away, Snyder Superintendent, Robert Trammel, evacuated the entire high school campus in order to keep everyone safe. The Snyder Fire Department was working with difficult weather conditions to control this fire, and it caused dozens of emergency crews racing to the small town to try to save several businesses in the path of the flames.

"I've seen fires, but nothing like this," Ruth Moeller has owned her own business, the Mountain Valley Flower Shop in downtown Snyder, for years. She also lives above it and in just an instant, her entire life changed this morning.

"When I first got up, I went up to the front and looked out the front door. And I saw that smoke over there. So, I went over there and that's when we got going," said Moeller as she recalled her morning.

The fire had quickly engulfed a large storage building on a corner of downtown Snyder, directly across from city hall. It didn't take long for crews and downtown tenants to realize they needed help. With conditions worsening, Superintendent Trammel's concerns grew, "That was what we were concerned about when it first originated, and blowing smoke and flames shooting, and with the winds picking up, it's been our worst enemy today."

Altus, Friendship, Hollister, Frederick, Hobart, and even Elgin and Geronimo were among the 13 fire departments who responded to Snyder's call for help. Power crews were also up in ladders in order to extinguish flames on nearby power lines and transformers to prevent an even bigger problem. The building is being declared a total loss and Snyder's School Administration building next door now sits heavily damaged.

Superintendent Trammel noted the severity of the damage that occurred to the administration building, "There's severe water damage as you can imagine in the front three quarters of the building. There's fire damage in the very back."

Moeller is hoping her flower shop next to Snyder schools is spared, "I don't have any insurance so maybe God will save it for me." Luckily for Ruth, her flower shop only received minor smoke damage.

But as far as the storage building goes, Kiowa County Sheriff Bill Lancaster did say the state fire marshal would be investigating. Still no word on what exactly caused the fire, but no one was injured as a result of the blaze.

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