By Chris Wright, The News On 6
OCHELATA, OK -- Fire destroys a small-town's history. An arsonist set fire to a building in Ochelata on Wednesday morning. It was one of the town's oldest structures, and it held a treasure trove of the little town's history.
A fire at the uninhabited building may have gone relatively unnoticed in other towns, but in tiny Ochelata, it's nothing short of a tragedy.
"This building is an old building that has a lot of memories for people in this town," said Ochelata Fire Chief Lonnie Ingram.
Chief Ingram says early Wednesday someone broke in, and intentionally started the fire. He says there is a suspect, but no arrests have been made. In all, 40 firefighters tried to contain the flames, but the building is a total loss.
Ochelata doesn't have many buildings in the first place, so losing any of them is a big deal. But, residents tell The News On 6 that the contents lost in the fire are irreplaceable.
"We're all kind of shocked and all devastated. You know, it's a little disheartening that we lose a landmark," said Ochelata Mayor Sid Barnes.
The building housed nearly all of Ochelata's historic pictures and documents from its early days. Before it was used for storage, it was also the town's only bar, the Moon Glow Hut. Popular in the 60s and 70s, it still elicits memories from life-long residents.
"The town's population hovers right around say 450 on a Saturday night. The population would almost triple because of the bar," said Ochelata Mayor Sid Barnes.
"The Moon Glow Hut was a nice place. It wasn't wild. It was just a nice place to come," said Gary Ivey of Ochelata.
"People came from all surrounding towns to come here on the weekends, party, dance, and have a few bar fights," said Ochelata Fire Chief Lonnie Ingram.
The Moon Glow Hut closed, and Ochelata's population continued to dwindle. Some say all they have left are the memories, but many of those were claimed by the fire.
Ochelata is looking for people who may still have pictures from the town's past. Anyone who wants to help can call the city at 918-535-2213.