On April 15th, 2011, on the way back from chasing tornadoes the previous day in Oklahoma, many wildfires got going across southwest Oklahoma, as well as west and northwest Texas. A strong cold front had come through, and with winds gusting well into the 60+ mph range! This along with low humidities made for dangerous and explosive fire weather. As I entered the north side of Wichita Falls, TX, I noticed a wildfire had started next to I44, and had moved into a residential area. There was also a wildfire that was showing up on nexrad radar to the west of Wichita Falls, near Iowa Park in Wichita County. I decided to investigate covering that fire for the news, since the one in town was extremely crowded with responders and residents and gawkers stopped on I44.
The Iowa Park fire missed the town to the south, but moved through plenty of homes, burning many of them to the ground. While I was watching one home, one of the larger gusts of wind came up and took the fire down the trees on both sides of me. I was in a cleared area, and safe there, as long as I stayed in my vehicle to remain out of the smoke! I ended up covering different areas of the fire, streaming the video out live via iMap and my website here, until I worked my way back up to the main highway checkpoint. It was actually one of three along the highway, the one I stopped at being the last one before you entered the fire area.
I saw many crazy things that day, this being the largest wildfire I have covered to date. One thing I really took away from this, was that homes that had their properly nice and clean, with nearby grass close cut, and brush cut back a fair distance from the home, did not burn. The properties with either a lot of junk piled up, or lots of brush close to the home, did burn to the ground.
Below is a video, and 58 of what I consider the best of over 200 photos I took that day. I'll let the video and photos speak for themselves the rest of the story...