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Firefighters Battle More Than Flames During Large Grass Fire

POTEAU (KFSM) — Five fire departments battled flames that scorched about 600 acres of land Thursday (Feb. 18) in LeFlore County. “It was probably th...

POTEAU (KFSM) -- Five fire departments battled flames that scorched about 600 acres of land Thursday (Feb. 18) in LeFlore County.

"It was probably the biggest fire that I've seen in the last five years," Poteau Fire Captain Don Goforth said Monday (Feb. 22).

Goforth said while all of the department's equipment is up-to-date, not everything went perfectly during last week's grass fire.

"Some of our equipment did break down," he said. "We had to replace an alternator on one of our grass trucks. And one of the grass trucks water pumps broke down, so we did get that fixed."

He said fixing the alternator only cost about $75, but adds it's not the first time they've had to fix something while on the scene.

"It's hard on the vehicles, and it's hard on the fireman, so stuff does break down, but we fix it," he said.

Aside from vehicle repairs and the cost of fuel, he said another loss for firefighters is the time spent away from their other jobs. On Thursday, the fire was fought from about 11:30 a.m. until 9:00 that night. Some rural firefighters get paid per call.

"They get $15, or $7 per call. And they fought that whole time for $7 or $15," he said.

And while Goforth said he can't speak for other departments, he said Poteau firefighters are prepared if any major fires spark in the near future.

Aside from the Poteau Fire Department, Pocola, Monroe, Wister and Hogeye departments all worked the grass fire.

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