3 Killed In Pittsburg Co. House Fire; Family Grieves Loss Of Cancer Survivors, Veterans

Monday, September 27th 2021, 6:08 pm
By: Amy Slanchik

TULSA, Oklahoma -

A family is grieving after losing two grandparents and a father to a fire in Pittsburg County.  

The two oldest victims both survived cancer, and the two men who died, served in the military.  

Just off a rural road a few miles south of McAlester, the family said Don and Carolyn West built their dream home back in 1986. 

Don and Carolyn, both 81 years old, died in their home Saturday, along with their son who was living in the apartment above the garage. Now, their family is sifting through rubble, looking for anything can be saved.  

Both cancer survivors, the family said Don loved to sing karaoke and play bingo, and they described Carolyn as "one of the most giving and selfless people."  

The couple was married for 57 years. The family said their son Jeff, who was 56, was "fiercely protective." 

Investigators said Jeff was able to call 911 Saturday night and let dispatchers know he was trapped in the garage apartment and that his parents were in the attached home. 

Pittsburg County Emergency Management Director Kevin Enloe said several rural fire departments responded to what he called a "horrific" scene.  

"It was totally involved. There was, the floor had collapsed from the upstairs apartment, had already collapsed into the downstairs part of the garage. So there was no way for firefighters to make entry,” Enloe said.  

Jeff's son, Tony, who didn't want to go on camera, said his dad served in both the Navy and the Army at different points in his life. Tony said his grandfather Don beat cancer twice, and served in the Navy, too.  

The family said Carolyn just finished her last treatment for breast cancer two weeks ago.  They said she worked in healthcare for more than 20 years, at the Mercy clinic in McAlester. 

The couple's daughter, Deanna, said the family is leaning on their faith right now and said, "God is bigger than all of this."  

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but first responders said there was nothing suspicious at the scene. The State Fire Marshal’s Office is leading the investigation.  

The family asks for any donations to be made to the Oklahoma Cancer Specialists and Research Institute in McAlester, by clicking here.