Fire Marshall Says Tear Gas Likely Responsible For Muskogee House Fire

Thursday, February 19th 2015, 12:37 am
By: News On 6

The results are in in an investigation whether police accidentally burned down a home in Muskogee.

The day of the fire neighbors said they suspected the tear gas canisters thrown into the home by police started it; a 30 page report shows they might be right.

12/2/2014 Related Story: Neighbors Evacuated When Muskogee Standoff Leads To House Fire

Muskogee Police negotiated with barricaded suspect Blake Holladay for hours back in December.

“We knew he was in there but he wouldn't make contact with us so our next step is to deploy CS gas into the house,” said Deputy Chief, Chad Farmer.

That tear gas was meant to smoke out the suspect, not catch the house on fire.

"There were some hints that might be the cause of it," Farmer said.

The department hasn't used that gas supplier since.

Now, months later, the Fire Marshal's conclusion is that the most probable ignition source was the tear gas.

"We deployed like the manual said and it was safe for indoor use and all the tactics we've been trained to use, but it was an accident," Farmer said.

The home still sits burned and empty.

The homeowner, Steve Money, now has a claim against the city of Muskogee asking for compensation.

“The liability is very obvious and statute is very clear and I don't see why they wouldn't follow statute on this and pay the claim," Money said.

Muskogee's City attorney said the city's insurance company is in the middle of its own investigation into the fire and the city has until April 4th to respond the claim.

In the meantime, Farmer said he is sending the manufacturer several gas canisters from the same batch used back in December to be tested for a defect.

He said they've used the brand for years and never had an issue.

"For some reason this time there was a different reaction and we don't know why," Farmer said.

The city attorney said its insurance will cover up to $25,000 in property damage and $125,000 in personal injury but no more than $1 million.

He said the insurance company has the final say on whether or not the city will pay.