Okmulgee Business Fire Investigation Underway

Tuesday, December 16th 2008, 5:23 pm
By: News On 6

By Craig Day, News On 6

OKMULGEE, OK -- Fire investigators are looking into what caused a fire that destroyed two buildings and damaged four others in downtown Okmulgee.

The fire happened Monday afternoon. It started in a florist shop called The Flowery and quickly spread.

Related Story: 12/15/2008 Flower Shop Fire In Downtown Okmulgee

About 75 firefighters from several departments worked to get the fire under control. It destroyed a historic downtown building and left the business owner wondering what to do next.

A day after the fire swept through downtown Okmulgee businesses, the icy cleanup is underway.

Crews are clearing away what's left of The Flowery. When The News On 6 talked to business owner Shelba Barnes, she hadn't been to see the damage, but is certain she has lost almost everything.

"All the antiques that I had, family pictures and just a lot of stuff you gather up through 35 years," said Shelba Barnes, owner of The Flowery.

The fire gutted the flower shop and a vacant building next door and caused extensive smoke damage to two others.

"It's just something you don't want to see, especially this time of year. Everybody is preparing for Christmas coming up and then this happens to part of your downtown, it's not good," said Marvin Sears, Okmulgee resident.

Investigators are looking into an office area at the business as the likely place where the fire started.

"Our burn patterns and smoke indications are in that area, so that's where we're concentrating," said Rick Chisum, City Fire Marshal.

Firefighters fought the fire for more than two hours before getting it under control. The frigid temperatures made the job more difficult.

"It was very significant. We had pump panels freezing. We had lines freezing, people freezing. It was tough," said Chisum.

"They were running around with ice all over them. I felt so sorry for them," said Barnes.

Barnes says it's too soon to decide whether she will reopen the business in another location.

While Barnes decides what to do next, many people who live and shop in the area are saddened to see the loss of the downtown business and the loss of another historic piece of Okmulgee's downtown.

The building dates back to the early 1900's. Though it is lost, Barnes is thankful no one was hurt.

The state fire marshal's office is determining what caused the fire. They expect to know something within the next couple of days.

Related Story:

12/15/2008  Flower Shop Fire In Downtown Okmulgee