5 Burned, Being Treated After Smudge Pot Explosion

Okmulgee County Emergency Management Director Jeff Moore said the group of friends were using a smudge pot to stay warm while hanging out this weekend. 

Monday, November 20th 2023, 6:20 pm



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5 people from Okmulgee County are in the Hillcrest Medical Center burn unit in Tulsa after first responders said an outdoor fire turned into an explosion.

Okmulgee County Emergency Management Director Jeff Moore said the group of friends were using a smudge pot to stay warm while hanging out this weekend. 

While first responders said they do not have any video of the explosion, plenty of videos online show flames coming out of what's known as a "smudge pot." 

"It was just a freak accident,” Moore said. 

Moore said an explosion Friday night outside a house near Beggs left 5 victims with second and third-degree burns. 

All but 1 were flown from the scene to Hillcrest's burn unit in Tulsa. The fifth victim was taken by ambulance, Moore said. 

"I think everybody's gonna be OK from what I've talked to with the hospital staff, but of course, you know that's just preliminary in what they're trying to get through, but there's still two of them that are still critical in intensive care,” Moore said. 

Kent Livesay has tried using smudge pots in the past on his peach orchard in Porter. 

"We were never successful with 'em,” Livesay said. 

AMY: "How long did you try them out for?"  

LIVESAY: "Oh maybe, on a real small, maybe on one acre, a couple of years maybe. But we haven't used them since." 

Livesay said smudge pots are rare. They're expensive to buy and can be expensive to use. 

"They're pretty much obsolete,” Livesay said. “A construction crew might use them. Have a place to go over and get warm. I have friends that talk to me about using them that way.” 

Moore, along with the Okmulgee County Sheriff, said because foul play is not suspected, there will not be an investigation. 

"It could have been a number of things,” Moore said. “My best estimate is there was some type of foreign object in there that caused it. It could have been something as simple as water condensation from the day.” 

The mother of one of the victims said the victims’ ages range from 21 to 70. None of the victim’s names have been released by officials. 

Kanokie Coffeehouse in Beggs is collecting donations for the victims and their families. For more information on items being collected, click here.

Related: 5 Injured In Okmulgee County Smudge Pot Explosion

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