Two firefighters, two residents injured at Fairmont Terrace apartments fire
BY ZACK STOYCOFF World Staff Writer
Monday, August 13, 2012
8/13/12 at 10:17 PM
Dozens of residents were displaced by a fire that injured two residents and two firefighters while destroying much of an apartment building Monday, authorities said.
A child playing with a lighter sparked the fire, investigators determined.
The blaze destroyed 12 of 24 units of a three-story building at Fairmont Terrace, 1111 E. 60th St., Tulsa Fire Department spokesman Stan May said.
“The flames were just pouring out,” said Michael Hoover, a neighbor who ran outside when he heard the commotion. “I mean they were 30 to 40 feet tall. The smoke was so thick.”
Firefighters responded about 10:30 a.m. and quickly evacuated the building, May said. He knew of at least one resident who was taken to a hospital with breathing problems.
One firefighter was taken to a hospital for treatment of leg burns, and one was taken with back pain, but their injuries were minor, May said.
EMSA spokeswoman Kelli Bruer said medics took a total of four people, including a 27-year-old woman and a 37-year-old man, to hospitals. She didn’t have ages on the other two who were injured and couldn’t provide their identities because of privacy laws.
The blaze moved quickly into the attic and spread through the western half of the building, gutting six apartments on the top floor, May said.
For nearly an hour, crews sprayed the fire from ladders surrounding the building. Air conditioner units fell through the roof soon after firefighters arrived, which kept them out of the building from early on, May said.
Hot spots kept the firefighters busy for more than an hour after the largest flames were extinguished.
The eastern half was largely protected by a firewall, but electrical problems will displace all of the building’s residents at least overnight Monday, May said.
The Tulsa Chapter of the American Red Cross opened a shelter for the affected residents at the Crosstown Church of Christ, near Admiral Place and Harvard Avenue, around 4 p.m., spokeswoman Donita Quesnel said.
Fire investigators determined that the fire was started by a child — whose age was not known — who was playing with a lighter, May said Monday evening.
James Vanpelt, who said he lives in the badly damaged half, was walking home from a store when he saw the smoke and noticed a crowd gathering outside.
“What can I say, man?” he said as he and his roommate watched the blaze. “It’s all I got. I can’t go inside and get changed tomorrow.”
Residents reported hearing an explosion after the blaze began, but firefighters were not immediately sure what caused it.
“It was just a big ‘whoop,’ ” said Hoover, who was on the phone with another resident when the blast caused the power to flicker and the call to be cut off.
Carla Raushi, the other person on the line, said the explosion was so loud over the phone that she thought it came from Hoover’s residence.
“I was worried,” she said. “Then I seen my neighbors come running outside, and that’s when I knew there was a fire at the apartments.”
World Staff Writer Amanda Bland contributed to this story.
Firefighters battle a blaze Monday at the Fairmont Terrace Apartments. STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World
Fire crews shoot water at flames on the roof of a building Monday at the Fairmont Terrace Apartments, 1111 E. 60th St. ZACK STOYCOFF/Tulsa World