Randy Mitchell City Editor
The Ada News
Firefighters were forced to fight two wildfires in Pontotoc County in 110-degree heat Tuesday.
Firefighters from two counties battled the blaze near Lula which threatened several homes. The fire started near the intersection of State Highway 48 and County Road 1560 and officials believe it may have been arson, according to Pontotoc County Emergency Management Director Chad Letellier.
Lula firefighters quickly called for backup. Firefighters with brush trucks and tinders (trucks with water tanks) from Vanoss, Oil Center, Roff, Fitzhugh, Ada, Fittstown, Union Valley, Stonewall and BIA responded.
Firefighters from Tupelo, Clarita and Coalgate also responded.
Letellier said no firefighters suffered heat exhaustion, but one received second-degree burns to his hand.
“He was checked out at the scene and went back to the fire,” Letellier said. “He was in some pain, that’s for sure.”
With triple-digit temperatures and gusting winds, the fire quickly spread north and grew wider as it went. After a mile of burning, one arm of the fire approached the residence of Brad and Angela Wofford.
As a precaution, the Woffords’ two children went to stay with their grandfather Dink Wofford.
The fire approached a barn, a shed and a miniature horse frightened by the fast approaching flames.
Angela Wofford tried several times without success to get the horse through an open gate.
The flames were only 10 feet from the horse when a neighbor, Daniel Mead, and put a harness around it and led it to safety. Firefighters swarmed the lot and doused the blaze as it reached the Woffords’ yard.
Letellier said the fire consumed 292 acres. When the Lula fire started, firefighters were battling a large grass fire east of Francis caused by a fallen power line.
J.B. Nelson, Allen Emergency Management director and Allen fire captain, said the fire consumed 130 acres before it was contained. Firefighters from Allen, Francis, Byng, Allen, Homer, Happyland and Atwood responded.
Nelson said the Red Cross supplied firefighters with water and snacks.
Letellier said the deploying of the Pontotoc County Task Force to the Lula fire was the second time it was deployed this week. It was called to a grass fire near Vanoss Monday. When a task force is deployed, only a few firefighters from each department are sent so there will be firefighters available for their district.
“That’s the thing about deploying the task force,” Letellier said, “we get one truck from everybody and it leaves a core of firefighters there to protect homes.”
While the task force has been deployed to other counties, this week marked the first for Pontotoc County.
“We’ve had this task force in operation for three years now, and this week we’ve deployed it twice in our county for the first time ever,” Letellier said.