Crews Respond To Explosion, Fire Near North Utica

Friday, October 9th 2015, 7:13 pm
By: News On 6

Fire crews are investigating after at least two explosions destroyed a business.

Heavy equipment is being brought in to move the debris so they can get a better look, and they hope they won't find any victims inside.

Fire investigators said it may take a while to pinpoint what happened. They said, based on just how intense the explosion was, they’re holding off on even speculating what might have caused the explosion.

Witnesses said, whatever it was, it literally rocked the neighborhood. They said it was deafening, and could be felt a half a mile away.

Witness David Bertrand said, "The first one was loud. My ears are still ringing from the first one."

"It felt like my heart was about to bounce out of my chest cause it was that loud,” said Tracy Thomas-Wilson.

Around 6:00 Friday night, in the 1100 block of Utica, 15 trucks and 50 firefighters converged. Five minutes into fighting the flames, the crews felt another explosion.

Wilson felt it too.

"We just seen fire coming out, and we tried to back up real quick, and next thing you know we got out just to see what happened, and then we heard another big boom," she said.

Jose Bautisa was driving by when the first explosion sent glass flying into the street. He grew up in the neighborhood and, as far as he knows, the building was abandoned.

"I'm just surprised it didn't spread out, that it didn't hit the houses or anything. It's really bad," he said.

Even after an hour into fighting the flames, crews were still working to put out hot spots.

Because of the magnitude of the explosion the building is destroyed, so finding out what happened will take time, according to Captain Jose Ariza, with the Tulsa Fire Department.

“We're in a defensive posture. Soon as we get heavy equipment in, to move out some of that heavy debris out, we'll begin those operations," he said.

In the meantime, witnesses are hoping the building is the only casualty.

The fire captain on duty said, as investigators work to find out what happened, they are also working to get in touch with the property owner to find out what the building was and what it housed.

From what the fire captain said, there have been no calls for suspicious activity at the building, so they'll have to wait to see what investigators find out.