TULSA, Oklahoma -- A Tulsa apartment complex was badly damaged in an overnight fire Sunday. Emergency crews were called to The Lakes Apartments, 81st and Wheeling, when residents saw smoke and flames coming from one complex building at about 3:30 a.m.
"The fire was intentionally set on the exterior staircase of the upstairs unit, and witnesses reported seeing a male fleeing the scene, possibly on fire," said District Chief Bill French of the Tulsa Fire Department.
The fire quickly engulfed the top floor of the building, and witnesses could see a woman, Carol Price, in the downstairs unit who was not leaving her apartment.
Neighbors banged on everyone's door to get them outside and away from the fire, But Price, still sleepy and startled, wouldn't leave.
As flames crept closer, they couldn't wait any longer for her.
Neighbor Robert Chew finally threw a small kitchen appliance through the sliding glass door, rushed in and carried Price out of the apartment. "I had to break the sliding door with a microwave in order to get her out and she still didn't understand what was going on," Chew said.
Price said she didn't believe Chew at first when he shouted at her that the apartment was on fire. She was reluctant to leave her brother who was also in the apartment, but neighbors helped them both out of the unit.
"I was confused, all I know is he picked me up and dragged me out to keep me from stepping on glass because I was barefoot," she said.
Flames shot 20 feet high into the air from the second story of the building.
"When fire fighters responded they could see smoke from a mile away. When they arrived on scene they found one upstairs unit heavily involved in fire with the exterior staircase nearly burned off," French said.
Two apartment units were completely destroyed, and several others in the building damaged by smoke and water. No people were injured, but a dog and cat did not make it out.
"It was just scary, I had a view it from the balcony, it just seemed unreal, you know? It could have been any of us," said Lake Apartment tenant Katie King.
The Tulsa Red Cross is helping the residents who lost their homes.
"All emergency rooms were immediately notified of a possible burn victim, but at this point no one has shown up at area emergency rooms seeking care for burns," French said.
Firefighters interviewed the resident of the upstairs apartment, who was at work during the blaze, and have a suspect in the arson.
If anyone has any information about this suspect, call the Tulsa Fire Department investigations office at 596-ARSN, or 596-2776.