TFD Believes 11-Year-Old Started Grass Fire

Saturday, January 3rd 2009, 4:27 pm
By: News On 6

By Dan Bewley, News On 6

TULSA, OK - The Tulsa Fire Department is busy Saturday night searching for hotspots from a large grass fire. An 11-year-old boy is accused of starting that grass fire near Tulsa International Airport.

Investigators believe the boy had been playing with firecrackers when the fire broke out, eventually covering more than 20 acres.

Flames were visible by the roadside and the smoke could be seen for miles across Tulsa. Firefighters say the blaze broke out around 1:30 Saturday afternoon in an empty lot near the intersection of Apache and Yale.

The unseasonably warm weather made fighting the fire more difficult than usual.

"What we're dealing with is strong southerly winds, very dry conditions. The relative humidity is very low, so its prime conditions for grass fire," said Captain Michael Baker with the Tulsa Fire Department.

The Air National Guard joined in the fight with a 2,000 gallon water tanker. Firefighters had it quickly under control, but there were several major concerns. One was the land itself, a wooded area that had quite a bit of debris.

"This is an empty lot area. It has a lot of trees in it and a lot of the debris in it has not been cleaned up from the ice storm that was over a year ago," said Captain Baker.

The other concern was protecting a nearby business, a trucking company that had some of its property catch on fire. Firefighters say they were able to control enough of the fire to prevent the business from suffering any major damage.

Investigators say the 11-year-old accused of starting the fire could face charges as an adult, but in cases like this, there are several options.

"Additionally we can always refer them to what we have in our fire department is a juvenile fire setter program, which is an educational one-on-one mentoring program where we work with a community education officer to educate them about fire and the dangers of it. So, there are really a lot of different approaches that can happen related to juveniles," said Captain Baker.

The boy was released to his mother. He faces a charge of 3rd Degree Arson.

No one was injured