Several Businesses Damaged In Catoosa Strip Mall Fire
CATOOSA, Oklahoma - Dozens of fire crews had to fight a fire in the rain Saturday morning.
The fire gutted some Catoosa businesses at a a strip mall near the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.
The Catoosa and Tulsa Fire Departments worked together on this huge blaze, which destroyed two stores. Business owners say, if it wasn't for a fire wall, it could have been a lot worse.
Black smoke poured from the west end of the Catoosa strip mall near Admiral and 193rd--months and years of work gone up in flames.
"Now that we're going good, this happens," said Rick Chandler, who owns a martial arts school in the strip mall.
He said he beat the firefighters getting out there, and ran inside to save a gift from his father.
"[It was] so smoky that we could hardly get out of there. About the only thing that I could get out," Chandler said.
Chandler said he considers himself one of the lucky ones. He said his business and those on the east side of him were saved by a fire wall.
"Probably some water damage and some smoke damage, but I doubt if we got any fire," he said.
Businesses on the opposite side weren't so lucky. The fire forced Dollar General employees to evacuate. That buliding, along with Goo Ruu Pizza next door, were engulfed in the blaze.
Robert Wilder is a friend of the pizza store owner. He said the owner had spent the last three years renovating his business.
"They pretty much had to get it down to bare walls and start over," Wilder said.
Tulsa and Catoosa crews worked the fire from the inside, but were forced to go on the defensive after the flames grew. The ceiling above both stores eventually caved in.
Fire crews later checked the ceilings of the adjacent buildings to make sure the fire didn't spread, and battled hot spots for hours before finally getting it under control.
"As long as the firefighters are good, no body got hurt--that's all I care about," Chandler said.
Investigators can't say if the fire started in Goo Ruu Pizza or Dollar General, or what the cause may have been. There were no reports of injures to any employees or firefighters.