Wind-Whipped Flames Destroy Two South Tulsa Homes Late Sunday

Monday, April 4th 2011, 7:38 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- Fire driven by gusty winds destroyed two houses in a south Tulsa neighborhood late Sunday night.

Shortly after 11 p.m., Tulsa Fire responded to calls that a house was on fire in the 4200 block of 85th Street South.

Firefighters say wind gusts of nearly 50 miles per hour spread flames to a neighboring house which made fighting the first fire more difficult.

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There were no injuries, but the fire destroyed two homes.

The narrow streets made it challenging to get fire trucks into the neighborhood and it took firefighters an hour and a half to all the fires under control.

Flying embers landed on other roofs, including a nursing home, but crews say there's no substantial damage to any of them.

"It's just with these winds and these wood shingle roofs these embers are flying from roof to roof and that's what's making it pretty difficult for us in these conditions," said Tulsa firefighter Tim Smallwood.

The first house that caught fire burned all the way to the foundation. The second house sustained major damage.

One neighbor who was working to protect his home said he's never seen anything like this before.

"I don't know if we were the first to call 911 but there was a small fire we noticed on the back of that one house, we called 911 and I tell you what, it went up super fast," said Tulsa homeowner Tim Philley.

Dan Lubojacky lives down the street from the fire. He snapped pictures from his driveway showing the glow of the fire lighting up the night sky.

"It was just a mass of flames shooting, I don't know, 60-70 feet up in the air," Lubojacky said.

Everyone we talked with say the firefighters deserve a lot of credit. Two homes may have been lost but that wind could have easily led to more destruction.

"The firemen did an unbelievable job to contain it to just this right here because the gusts were amazing. The embers even landed on some homes blocks away, including on the roof of a nearby nursing home but it did not cause any major damage," said neighbor Darren Laptad.

The cause of the fire at the first house is still under investigation.