Meth Lab May Have Caused Tulsa Fire

Tuesday, March 10th 2009, 7:25 am
By: News On 6

By Dan Bewley, News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Investigators believe a fire at the Royal Arms Apartments started with a meth lab and police are looking for a witness.

It took 65 firefighters to battle the blaze that started at about 4 a.m. Tuesday morning in the 5100 block of South Norfolk Avenue.

One person showed up at a local hospital with burns and three others were taken by ambulance to local hospitals.

One of the victims had to be rescued by firefighters.

The 55-year-old woman was trapped in her bedroom and stayed on the phone with 911 while she waited to be rescued.

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Dispatcher: Get as far away from the bedroom door as you can.
Caller: Yes sir. Please hurry.
Dispatcher: Get a blanket and put it around yourself.
Caller: I'm scared.
Dispatcher: I know. We're on the way honey.

She was flown to a hospital in Oklahoma City, where she's in critical condition as of Tuesday evening.

Eight units at the Royal Arms Apartment complex were destroyed. Four upstairs apartment units were gutted and four downstairs apartment units sustained heavy smoke and water damage from the fire.

The fire caused more than $300,000 in damage.

Residents described hearing several loud pops, before seeing something was horribly wrong.

Tulsa firefighter Chad Meyer was one of the first at the scene. The flames were reaching high into the early morning sky, but Meyer and his crew were focused on trying to rescue a woman who was trapped in her apartment.

"That's what we're paid to do. That's what we're trained to do. We know, that when we come to the stations in the mornings, that we need to make sure that our equipment and that we're prepared to do what you guys pay us to do," said Chad Meyer.

The 55-year-old woman had been on the phone with a 911 dispatcher for ten minutes. He told her to cover herself with a blanket, huddle underneath and get as close to the floor as possible.

"The doors were actually burned through. The fire had burnt so hot that the doors had burned through on our arrival," said Meyer.

Watch and listen to firefighter Chad Meyer talk about the rescue

"We didn't have a lot of time to waste. The apartment was heavily burnt. What she needed was to be transported to the hospital as soon as possible," said Meyer.

Three other people are in the hospital. EMSA says two of the fire victims, a 35-year-old man and a 39-year-old woman, were reported in serious condition.

We were not able to get the condition of the third person.

Read the Tulsa Fire Department report about the fire.

The fire is under investigation. Authorities believe the fire may have started in a meth lab. Tulsa Fire Captain Michael Baker says items related to the production of meth were located near the point of origin.

Police have identified a woman seen in a surveillance photo taken early Tuesday morning at Saint Francis Hospital.  Authorities say that woman dropped off one of the burn victims.

Police say she's been identified and is not necessarily a suspect, but may be able to help them piece together exactly what happened at the Royal Arms.

Four people were injured in the fire.

Police say if this was a meth lab, it's part of an unfortunate trend in Tulsa this year.  It's only the second week of March, and TPD has already discovered 36 labs this year.

They found 42 in all of 2008.

"Tragic things can happen because of these meth labs. Like I said, innocent victims can be injured," said Officer Leland Ashley, Tulsa police.