MEERS, OK (KSWO) - The search is on for a woman who was flying a helicopter who helped save multiple lives and homes during the huge 2011 wildfire at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.
The Meers Volunteer Fire Department has been doing some digging for a while now so they could thank the woman. When we aired a story on a legal settlement over the fire, they realized we had captured her distinctive yellow helicopter on video. After taking a closer look at our video, they were able to identify the tail number, and now have a good lead on who it belongs to, and how to find her.
Officials say she was assisting on large wildfires in Texas when she decided to come here.
The Former Chief says they were able to determine that the helicopter is registered in Oregon, so they're hopeful that she's still in that area. They hope with this information and more digging will help them find her so the community, and one resident who says the pilot specifically saved her home, can finally say thank you.
"It was...I think a miracle," Paula Cox said.
Paula Cox lives in a log cabin home right in the middle of where the refuge fire in 2011 burned more than 40 thousand acres. She said she was sure that her house was going to go up in flames because the entire area around her, including homes, were destroyed
"I was hurting for my neighbors. It was devastating," Cox said.
Fortunately, Cox was able to evacuate the area before it got too bad. She heard through the fire department that they saw an unfamiliar helicopter pouring water right over the area of her home. When she returned she couldn't believe her home was still standing, all thanks to that pilot.
"I'm very thankful for her because I think that's the only thing that saved my home," Cox said.
Bill Cunningham, former Meers fire chief, says he witnessed the woman doing something she wasn't paid or told to do. He says they're forever grateful for the help.
"She saved homes. She saved lives and it really gave us an uplift at a time when we were all feeling defeated and overwhelmed by this fire burning from ground to tree tops," Cunningham expressed.
Cunningham says because of her actions and going out of the way to make sure this town was helped, she will forever go down as a hero in this community and he wants nothing more than to meet the pilot and woman that helped fight this devastating fire
"There are a community of responders who run toward danger while others flee and she was among our community of firefighters and she got it done," Cunningham said.
Cox says she was fortunate that the only damages she had from the wildfire was from the heavy smoke staining her house and damaging her barn.
The Meers Volunteer Fire Department says they will continue their search for the woman flying the helicopter.