Severe storms bring slew of power outages, structural wind damage, fires to southern Oklahoma
Strong winds blew across southern Oklahoma during a round of severe storms Thursday night, leaving behind a trail of damage in multiple counties.
Several reports of downed trees and power lines were reported to officials in Carter, Johnston and Murray Counties, with winds reaching between 60 to 80 mph. At around 9 p.m. on Thursday, at least 555 people in Ardmore were without power and 3,080 people were affected by power outages in Davis and Sulphur, according to OG&E.
At 9:45 a.m. the next morning, on Friday, OG&E reported that around 1,968 customers in the southern Oklahoma region were still without power as crews began working to clear the damage and make repairs.
The Ardmore Fire Department subsequently responded to several fires caused by wind damage to power lines and transformers. Ardmore Fire Marshall Tim Lee said firefighters responded to a total of seven calls Thursday night.
“When the wind gets blowing it gets electric lines sparking together and sometimes the transformers catch on fire. Sometimes they set the telephone poles on fire, it’s really common when we get really high winds,” Lee said. “My phone gets an alarm every time we get one and it kept dinging.”
Ardmore firefighters and police also responded to an abandoned building on the corner of North Washington Street and 2nd Avenue Northeast that partially collapsed during the storm. “The building previously had some structural damage and when the wind came, it compromised it and blew it over, blew the wall down,” Lee said.
Rubble from the building collapsing reportedly struck a neighboring building, as well, knocking a sizable hole in the wall and knocking a gas meter off the building. Lee said a gas company came out to the scene to disconnect the gas line after the building was damaged.
The neighboring building was reportedly occupied. However, no injuries were reported. Lee said the abandoned building was totaled after the wall collapsed and will likely be demolished by the city of Ardmore this weekend.
The structural damage to the neighboring building has not been completely assessed at this time due to the unsafe conditions.
The Madill City Pool was also hit pretty hard by strong winds Thursday night. Madill City Manager James Fullingim reported that substantial damage was done to the office building and bathrooms at the pool.
Due to the extent of the damage, Fullingim said the city will not be able to make all needed repairs before the end of the season and the pool will remain closed for the rest of the summer.
Among several reports of roofs being blown off in the Murray County area, Murray County Emergency Management Director Mark Woodell said a gazebo at a cemetery north of Sulphur was also destroyed by the winds.
City workers and OG&E crews began picking up the remains of damage Friday morning. As of Friday evening, OG&E did not have an estimate on restoration times for power outages due to the amount of damage. For a current listing of power outages visit www.oge.com.