A longtime Bartlesville-area business was badly damaged by fire Tuesday morning. Early reports indicate the fire started from the lightning storm that moved through the area, but crews are still working to determine the official cause.
Yocham's Custom Leather Saddlery and Cowboy Decor, located at the intersection of Highway 60 and County Road 4015, was founded in 1973. This is the second time the business has been damaged by fire.
The owners believe part of the metal roof that peeled off during the storm might have touched some power lines.
The fire started at the top of the building about 8:30 a.m., just as the storm passed through.
Though firefighters arrived quickly, they could not get enough water to stop the fire.
“It’s a rural area and we always have water issues with a rural area,” said Bill Hollander from the Bartlesville Fire Department.
Firefighters from Bartlesville and several nearby volunteer fire departments battled the fire at Yocham's Custom Leather. They had it almost under control around 10 a.m.
The Washington County Sheriff's Office said no one was inside the building when it caught fire early June 12. A passerby saw the fire and notified the business owners who live in a home nearby.
The family says having so many help them save so much was an overwhelming blessing.
“There are people that really care and love, that’s the main thing,” said Rhonda Yocham.
Firefighters were able to save part of the store, according to crews on scene. The business had an antiques and retail section which was destroyed. As for the shop in which custom leather goods are made, much of their equipment was saved, but the shop has roof damage.
“We actually ran out with an ice chest of his tooling tools, so all of that was saved so it’s just the water and the smoke damage,” said Rikki Sydebotham, the owner’s daughter.
The side of the building that burned was filled with decorative items – once showcased on “Discover Oklahoma” because of the unique merchandise.
For the family and their employees, who have been together for 45 years, it was a setback, but not the end. The owners say they plan to rebuild.
“Tomorrow is a new day,” said Yocham. “We’ve got orders to fill, furniture to redo, and it’ll go on. It’ll go on.”
There is a nearby barn, but residents were able to lead the horses to safety, firefighters said.
The owners say the business was fully insured and they will be back at work quickly.