Woman Critically Injured In Tulsa Apartment Fire

Thursday, March 19th 2009, 11:23 am
By: News On 6

By Dan Bewley, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- A woman is in critical condition and several apartments are destroyed after a late morning fire at an apartment complex.

Firefighters responded to the fire at the Mansion House, 1635 S. Carson Ave., about 10 a.m. It took them 20 minutes to get the fire under control.

Thick black smoke billowed out of the 11-story building as the flames tore through the ground floor. Five apartments received smoke and fire damage.

Those who live here say it's amazing there were so few serious injuries.         

"It was just a peaceful day, a peaceful night, and then all of the sudden this happens," said resident Sam Gugliotta, who lives across the hall from where the fire started. He says he smelled smoke then went to check on his neighbor.          

"The smoke got really worse, almost instantaneously," he said. "It seemed so quick, and the flames started shooting out.

"I ran to the front and said, 'There's smoke, there's smoke.' Then all of the sudden it got really bad, really quick."

Firefighters say the flames snaked through cracks in the building, some even leaping outside to reach the floors above.

"It generally requires five to six times our normal amount of firefighting personnel for a high rise building like this," Tulsa Fire Capt. Michael Baker said.

Firefighters say one of their first priorities was to get residents out of the building.

"(We) knocked on every door, checked with every resident," Baker said.

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Most of the building was evacuated. Only those in the opposite side of the fire who were unable to move were allowed to stay.

Baker says most of the residents are elderly or have a difficult time moving around. Some could be seen on their balconies, sheltering themselves from the smoke.

EMSA says it evaluated close to two dozen people, but only one resident was taken to the hospital. She was in critical condition because of smoke inhalation. 

The building's management says they're thankful the situation was under control so quickly.

One of the more popular residents is former state senator Bob Shatwell, who was not home at the time of the fire.

Investigators are still trying to determine a cause. Damage estimates are unknown.

The building, which contains 208 units and was built in the 1960s, does not have a fire sprinkler system.