Investigators Search For Tulsa Rowing Club Arsonist
TULSA, Oklahoma - The Tulsa Rowing Club is practicing again after a fire forced them out of their building last week. As rowers prepare for a competition this weekend, investigators are searching for the arsonist.
The ATF, Tulsa Fire and the insurance company are all investigating. They were able to gather some pieces of evidence here at the Rowing Club and hope it'll lead to the arsonist.
The building went up in flames last Monday and destroyed most of what's inside. The Tulsa Rowing Club president says at least 30 boats were destroyed and about the same number of rowing machines.
Right now, the club is practicing at other facilities.
Despite firefighters’ hard work, most of the building and rowing equipment inside is destroyed.
"I'm grateful they fought so hard to beat the fire and save our home," said 14-year-old rower, Callan McFadden.
The president says about two-thirds of the building is damaged beyond repair, so it'll likely have to come down, but he is hoping to be about to rebuild in this same spot - the west side of the Arkansas River in Tulsa, near River West Festival Park.
One Tulsa firefighter who worked the scene is back on the job after getting injured fighting the fire. He was injured walking toward one of the doors to get out of the building when one a ceiling beams fell on him.
Tulsa firefighter, David Rollandini was pinned down, but other firefighters rushed to help.
"It hit me on the head and pancaked me to my knees. There was a beam that was caught between my helmet and my air bottle," he recalled.
Rollandini said firefighters put the flames out and were checking the ceiling for hot spots. The ceiling beam fell down, without any warning, pinned him face down and reignited the fire around him.
"I tried to get up right away and I couldn't," Rollandini said.
His crew got the beam off him and they all got out.
"I didn't feel hurt,” he said. “I just wanted to get out of there. The longer I sat there the worst I felt."
Rollandini was taken to the hospital for an ACT scan and other tests, but they didn’t find any major injuries.
McFadden wrote a letter to Tulsa firefighters, thanking them for their hard work. It said, "I do not know your names or your favorite colors, but you will all have a special place in my heart until the day I die."
Rollandini said, "I just thought it was very sweet. And it's nice to be appreciated and feel appreciated every now and then for what we do."
The fire is being investigated as arson. Investigators said whoever started it is believed to have left graffiti behind.
You are asked to call the arson tip line at 918-596-2776 (ARSN) if you have any information.