By LARRY PHILLIPS
• Leader & Times
The Guymon Fire Department had numerous emergency calls over the weekend from the downtown area starting Friday, according to a press release from assistant fire chief and public information officer Grant Wadley.
He reported it all started at 5:30 p.m. Friday when “multiple reports of gas leaks all over downtown began coming into 911 and the Guymon Fire Department. Moments after the calls began, some citizens and the Guymon Police Department found the cause of the horrible smell of natural gas.
“What had occurred is a vehicle transporting the chemical Mercaptan had suddenly stopped at the traffic light at U.S. Hwy. 54 and South Main Street with a valve open and causing an estimated 1 to 3 gallons of the product to spill onto the roadway,” Wadley said. “The vehicle driver was unaware of the spill and continued on driving.
Guymon Fire Department Haz-Mat team was called to the scene to deal with the product and the situation. Identification of the product was quickly made and actions to mitigate the spill were done.
Wadley explained the chemical Mercaptan is a product that companies use during production of natural gas. Since true natural gas is odorless, Mercaptan is added at small amounts to form the rotten-egg smell so that humans can detect it by smell at very low levels.
“The one block of Main Street between Hwy. 54 and 1st Street was blocked off by law enforcement until the area was cleaned,” Wadley reported. “With this spill, no evacuations were ever indicated, but the strong gas smell in the downtown area and across town remained for several hours into the evening.”
Then on Saturday afternoon, Wadley noted outdoor cooking caused a house fire.
“Guymon firefighters responded to a reported house fire Saturday at 5:44 p.m. at the address of 1509 N. James,” Wadley said. As the first units arrived at the scene, firefighters found that at the back portion of the home, smoke and fire present.
“The occupants of the home were cooking on their back patio with a grill and a turkey fryer,” Wadley explained. “While the grease from the fryer was getting hot, it began to melt the underneath side of the patio overhead which was constructed of fiberglass material. The fiberglass material melted and then dropped into the fryer causing flames then to melt the remaining fiberglass and then burn the patio roofing that was attached to the house.”
The occupants tried to fight the fire themselves, but to no avail.
“The heat, flames, and damage were too much. The fire extended into the attic with smoke filling the entire house. The patio roofing was completely destroyed and Firefighters were able to stop the fire from damaging anything further into the home. No injuries were reported and the home was still save for the occupants to reside in,” Wadley noted.
“This type fire is typical to see near and around the holidays, but care must be taken anytime during the year this type of cooking is being done,” he added. “Fryers that require propane or gas are not to be used in a building such as garages or underneath patios or porches due to the very high fire dangers involved.”
Guymon firefighters were then called to battle a grass fire on Sunday.
“Guymon fire units responded at 1:30 p.m. Sunday to a fire one mile south of Hwy. 54 on Road 34,” Wadley reported. “On fire units arrival, they found an active grass fire along fence line path and beginning to burn into cattle pins. Firefighters were quickly able to extinguish the fire and prevent it from approaching a nearby house.
The fire was caused by an electrical transformer on a power pole that had faulted. Evidence showed that sparks fell from the transformer area and caught the dry grass and weeds below on fire. The fire, aided by light winds and the dry conditions, began to spread into a neighboring pasture where cattle pins were located. No livestock were in the pins or even in the area at the time of the fire,” Wadley stated. “An estimated one to two acres burned before firefighters extinguished it all.”
No injuries were reported and no structural damage occurred.