Phone Company: Thieves Stole Copper Wire, Impacting Service At Home Of Deadly BA Fire

Tuesday, June 14th 2022, 6:34 pm

BROKEN ARROW, Oklahoma -

The stepson of a Broken Arrow man who died in a fire worries his stepdad had no chance to call 911, because thieves stole copper wiring that shut down his landline phone.

Broken Arrow Police are investigating the copper theft.

Jerry Harrold thanks his neighbor down the street for noticing the flames in the middle of the night and knocking on his door to wake him up so they could try to help his stepdad, Joe Cartland.

But Harrold is now left to wonder: What if his stepdad had been able to call 911 when the fire started?

Investigators said 74-year-old Cartland died at the hospital after his house caught fire.

Cartland's stepson, Harrold, and a neighbor broke down a door trying to save him.

"We both took a leg and pulled him all the way to the mailbox. And by that time the house was engulfed,” Harrold said Monday.

The phone company, Windstream, said in an email Monday afternoon the outage in Broken Arrow was caused by copper thieves who stole about 250 feet of copper wire on Friday.

“My stepdad is no longer here and it could have been possibly because he couldn’t call 911,” Harrold said after he learned that information.

Windstream said the thieves left behind about 800 additional feet of cable on the ground.

The company said the crime left more than 150 customers without service. Harrold and Cartland were two of those customers.

Harrold, who lived next door to his stepdad, showed News On 6 what happens when he dials 911. There was no dial tone, and the screen on the phone read "In Use/No Line.”

Windstream said in an email, it started making repairs on Friday when the outage started, but, "The damaged cable contained hundreds of copper pairs that had to be re-spliced at both ends of the cut, meaning our crews had to make a total of 4,800 splices. Customers returned to service as their individual pairs were spliced."

Harrold said Cartland just got a cell phone two weeks ago, and was still learning how to use it. Harrold realizes he will never know if his stepdad tried to make a 911 call.

“It’s the ‘What If?’ that gets ya,” he said.

He has this message for thieves: “Going out and stealing the copper like that for a telephone that people need, is not OK. It hurts other people,” he said.

Windstream is offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction for the copper theft. If you have any information about the copper theft, call Broken Arrow Police.

Harrold takes comfort in knowing his stepdad's dog, Princess, which also died in the fire, will be cremated for free by a pet memorial company.