Tulsa's Admiral Flea Market Fire Still Under Investigation

Monday, August 14th 2006, 6:03 am
By: News On 6

Still no official word on what caused a major fire at the Admiral Flea Market in east Tulsa Sunday. Witnesses saw flames blow out the front windows just before 6 PM Sunday. No one was injured in the fire, but the building damage alone is a $250,000 loss.

News on 6 reporter Heather Lewin says investigators say it's still too dangerous to go inside, so it's hard for vendors to know just how much they lost in the fire.

Linda Hargraves is hoping to catch a glimpse of what's left of her livelihood. "It's a little bit hard to see through here." Hargraves has heard her booth is still standing, but she doesn't know how badly it's damaged.

Jameel Abdul doesn't have to wait, his spot was closer to the fire and what's left is not a pretty sight. "I took the most of it really, it was quite a loss." Abdul had the first booth in the front, packed with thousands of dollars worth of stereo equipment, his only source of income. “It was devastating, what else can somebody say? That's a life right there, gone almost."

Fire investigators still don't know what started the fire, but they suspect overloaded electrical outlets may be to blame. Witnesses who spotted the smoke could only stand by and watch as firefighters fought to save the building. Jameel Abdul: "It just went up in flames in a matter of seconds. We left at 5 o'clock, 6 o'clock we got the news."

Some witnesses thought there might've been an explosion, but investigators say the fire started right behind the front window and it's not uncommon for such high heat to blow out the glass. Hargraves fears an entire year's worth of income was destroyed. “I'm still in shock, I think."

But it's not just the money. Disabled and living alone, she says spending every weekend at the flea market is her only chance to socialize. “We're like a little family." Hargraves says her items can be replaced. "I think some people are gonna come off lucky, I believe. Maybe I'll be one of 'em, I don't know."

But for others, it might be a bit tougher to get back on their feet. “Jameel Abdul: “Just try to start all over again if we can."

The flea market's been there for 22 years, near Admiral and Mingo. Even items that didn't burn are likely ruined by smoke damage and vendors the News on 6 talked to did not have insurance.