Creek County Authorities Have Persons Of Interest In Wildfires

Thursday, August 16th 2012, 10:35 pm

It's been two weeks since Creek County's most destructive wildfire started, leaving hundreds asking, "Why?"

Early on, investigators believed the fire started on tribal land, meaning the Bureau of Indian Affairs would head up the investigation.

But that's no longer the case.

The BIA said it wrapped up its investigation last week, showing the fire started on private property.

8/15/2012 Related Story: Sheriff's Office: Trash Pile Fire To Blame For Massive Creek County Wildfire

The investigation is now in the hands of the Creek County Sheriff's Office, and residents say they're ready for answers.

It doesn't matter where you go in Creek County, these days you're going to find someone with a story of a wildfire unlike any other.

Raymond Lane is no different. His home was saved, but he still has a tale to tell.

"Have you ever heard of heaven and hell? You was in hell … guarantee your rear. We was here," Lane said.

The fire came within just feet of Lane's home. It's still standing thanks to his own hard work and the help of a few others.

"We was fighting it, all my kin folk was here," Lane said. "They had blankets, wet blankets, anything you could grab and wet it."

Blankets weren't enough to save Lane's garage and the two 1935 Studebakers he'd spent 11 years restoring, though.

"I can afford to lose it, but a lot the people out here can't afford what they got dealt. I'm all right," Lane said.

So many in Creek County aren't all right. Overall, the fires scorched more than 58,000 acres, wiping out 383 homes.

Investigators say it all started two weeks ago at a home on private property, west of 141st Street off Oklahoma 48.

They say the cause was careless — a dropped cigarette ignited the largest wildfire in Creek County history.

"To think a human being could be stupid enough to do this to another human being is outrageous," Lane said.

Investigators say there are three suspects connected to the fire.

They say they believe they know which one is responsible, but are working to gather the evidence to prove it. They've questioned two suspects, but are still looking for the third.

Right now, they don't want to release their names, out of fear of retaliation.

Third-degree arson charges could possibly be filed, but Creek County investigators say that's up to the district attorney.

See full coverage of Oklahoma Wildfires