Cigarette Causes Tulsa Apartment Complex Fire

Sunday, December 21st 2008, 10:04 am
By: News On 6

By Chris Wright, News On 6

TULSA, OK -- A fire tore through the Sawmill Apartments in East Tulsa Saturday night.

The fire destroyed two apartments and damaged four more. Now, just days before Christmas, some people are relying on the kindness of strangers.

"All of them said we lost everything for Christmas," said Erin Macaruso.

Macaruso and her mother rushed outside after fire engulfed these apartments. They say they allowed several children who escaped the fire to warm up inside their place.

"The little girl told me, she says ‘I had $50. I took the $50 and bought my mom and dad something for Christmas and it was all in there,'" said Sandy Kellogg.

No one was injured in the fire, but by the time the Tulsa Fire Department was able to get it under control, one apartment was lost, another heavily damaged, and four more hurt by smoke and water.

Officials believe the fire caused $80,000 in damage.

Unfortunately, firefighters believe the fire could have been avoided.  They say it all started when a resident failed to put out a cigarette on his balcony.

The Red Cross is helping out those who are displaced. They say they have assisted eight people with food, clothing, and hotel rooms.

Neighbors say what happened is unfortunate, but the timing of the fire makes a bad situation even worse.

TFD says the freezing temperatures made fighting the fire extremely difficult.

Two firefighters were treated for minor injuries.

Related Story: 12/20/2008 Fire Breaks Out At East Tulsa Apartment Complex

The Tulsa Fire Department says to never smoke in bed. They say to put out all cigarettes, cigars or pipes before you leave the room.

Also, use deep ashtrays and don't put ashtrays on the arms of sofas or chairs. TFD says to soak ashes in water before dumping them in the trash.

In 2003, an estimated 25,600 structure fires in the United States were caused by smoking materials. These fires caused 760 deaths and 1,520 injuries.

About 1 out of 4 fire deaths in 2003 was caused by smoking materials.