History Goes Up In Flames As Tulsa Feed Mill Burns

Saturday, March 15th 2014, 9:29 pm
By: News On 6

Tulsa County's last feed mill went up in flames on Saturday on East Admiral. Its bones may have burned, but memories remain emblazoned in the minds of those who have admired the mill's place in plains history.

The old Booster Feed Mill had big wood beams and equipment, so for their own safety, firefighters were forced to fight the flames from the outside.

They sprayed water down on the mill from ladders, trying to save a Tulsa landmark.

"It was like 6-foot flames shooting out of the air," witness Frank Doughty said.

Smoke and flames could be seen from downtown.

3/14/2014 Related Story: Tulsa's Historic Booster Feed Mill Destroyed By Fire

Spectators standing on Interstate 244 watched the fire grow above them as water poured into the vacant structure.

"It rapidly engulfs in flames and the whole inside is on fire," Tulsa firefighter Andy Teeter said.

Heavy timber beams stopped firefighters from getting in and made flames hard to put out.

"This one had a lot of combustibles and it had a lot of open space, which gives it a lot of air," firefighter Rick Blevins said. "So it's able to develop a pretty large fire."

Several people say they saw lightning hit the mill.

"It hit the metal, and it burst into flames," Doughty said. "This was scary. Very scary."

Perhaps even more unsettling is the history lost with this 73-year-old building.

Our own Scott Thompson, the Oklahoma Traveler, profiled the place in 1996.

"All eat well after the old girl works her way with the fruits of the plains.

Her innards are half a century old. It takes a hand-operated elevator to reach her top floor. She is a microchity at times, spitting and hissing and full of bluster. This old girl has her days that the legs don't want to work right, just like old people.

And then there are her good days, when she'd limber and spry, and the old belts and gears work the way they were designed and the grains pour through her cobwebbed veins. And Jim Wolfe, blanketed with dust and grime, is exceedingly happy to have kept Tulsa County's last feed mill alive.

There is a calming reassurance here of a time before the city came out this way and surrounded her with chaos and clutter.

Here beneath the highway, cobwebs and grime and the smells of the good Earth still have a place."

It was somewhat of a sanctuary for the late Jim Wolfe, a Tulsa newspaper photographer turned miller, who quit his day job and took on his daydream of running the place.

Saturday, less than two decades later, that calmness erupted in flames.