South Tulsa Apartment Fire Started By Child Playing With Lighter

Monday, August 13th 2012, 11:49 am
By: Dee Duren, Emory Bryan

Four people were hurt when flames burned through a south Tulsa apartment complex in a fire that started at about 10:30 a.m. Monday. 

Firefighters were still putting out hot spots almost 90 minutes after arriving at the Fairmont Terrace Apartments, 61st and Peoria. TFD said a child playing with a lighter caused the fire.

The fire quickly burned through three floors of an apartment building and once it got to the top - the wind made it worse.

Rolling flames shot through the roof of Building 4 at the Fairmont Terrace Apartments.

But the fire started, according to witnesses, on the basement level, and from there, it didn't take long for 12 apartments to catch fire.

"It started from the bottom apartment and then it raised up and caught everything on fire," said witness Kejuan Jones. "It started from the bottom, and it blew everything up."

"I heard 'fire, fire' and so I ran downstairs and I grabbed my dog or whatever the case may be couldn't get nothing else out of the apartment - and so it's gone. What we going to do?" asked resident Mimi Colbert.

Two firefighters were hurt - one with burns, another with a back injury. Two residents were taken to the hospital with minor injuries as well.

Firefighters say the fire spread to the attic, making it difficult for firefighters to battle the flames from inside the building.

Just as they were getting a handle on one side - smoke appeared from vents on the roof of the other half of the building - across a fire wall. Within minutes - smoke was pouring from the eaves and the fire spread.

The remaining 12 apartment were damaged by fire, smoke and water as the residents watched.

TFD said they believe the weather helped the fire spread.

"And it's warm out, and we've got pretty dry conditions, so it doesn't take very much to get it started," said Stan May of the Tulsa Fire Department.

The Tulsa Area Red Cross was called to the scene to help displaced residents. They are setting up a shelter that will be located at Crosstown Church of Christ at Admiral Place and Harvard, and will be open by 4 p.m.