Lawton, OK State Prairie Fires, Mar 1904



Lawton, Oklahoma, March 3. -- For hours tonight 5,000 persons fought a great prairie fire which threatened this city. The advance line of the fire was fully two miles in length and came in a semi- circular form. A thousand men turned their efforts to checking the grass borders of the reservation at the city limits.
Water from every source, carried in every conceivable way, was distributed along the line and carried all around the city limits. This served the purpose of checking the advance lines of the fire, but was of little avail in hindering the continual rolling of the firebrands into the streets of the city.
In more than a hundred places flames arose from dwellings, barns and outbuildings, but whenever a blaze grew men were present to quench it with water. As a result of the cool judgement of the fighters the city's loss was only $10,000.
Families lay out on the prairie throughout the freezing night after the storm had passed with only thin clothes on their backs. Hundreds of persons are destitute, and are suffering intensely from the cold.
Reports received here indicate that five persons have been burned to death and 3,000 square miles of territory in Kiowa and Comanche Counties swept by fires. Hundreds of people are homeless, and it is impossible to estimate accurately the financial loss owing to the wide extent of country affected.
At Hobart, the county seat of Kiowa County, the fire approached from the east, destroying the staables and fifteen race horses, fifteen residences, two business houses, and various small buildings. Spreading to the southwest, the fire swept 75,000 acres of Government military, and timber reserve and Indian school reserve, destroying several Indian houses and forty head of Government cattle.
Spreading westward, the flames covered miles of homestead district, destroying houses, barns, and stock. It was in this district that five persons are reported to have perished in attempting to protect their property. Among the dead are "DOC" and JOHN HARMON, brothers; A. N. CRAWFORD, and MRS. HENDERSON, a widow. MRS. HENDERSON'S two daughters are badly burned, and one may die.
A report has been received at Fort Sill that an entire Apache Indian village was swept clean. The report has not been verified.
The soldiers at Fort Sill were ordered out to fight the flames, and rendered great assistance.
At Anadarko many farm buildings were burned. No lives are reported lost, but there were numerous narrow escapes. Women and children, scantily clad, fled to plowed ground, while the men remained to fight the flames, in an endeavor to save property.
The losses from wind and fire reported to date follow:
Hobart $10,000; Vernon $10,000; Lawton $50,000; farm property $100,000.

New York Times New York 1904-03-04