ATF team arrives to assist in fire probe
BY AMANDA BLAND & DAVID HARPER World Staff Writers
Friday, September 07, 2012
Members of U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives national response team will assist local investigators following a school fire and explosions that injured several firefighters Wednesday morning.
The former Barnard Elementary School building at 17th Street and Lewis Avenue was consumed by the blaze, which began shortly before 5 a.m. Wednesday.
Billy Magalassi, resident agent in charge of the ATF's Tulsa office, said Thursday that a 20-member national response team will begin investigating Friday.
He said the squad includes fire investigators from across the country and specialists in areas such as electrical engineering and chemistry.
The Tulsa Fire Marshal's Office is working to determine the cause of the blaze. A preliminary investigation indicates that the fire began at the school's east end.
Tulsa Public Schools had agreed to lease the building to the Tulsa School of Arts and Sciences in April. The charter high school began classes there last month.
Tulsa firefighters worked five hours to contain the flames, but the building was a total loss, officials said.
Eight firefighters were burned on their faces, hands or lower legs as explosions accelerated the fire. Six were released from Hillcrest Medical Center that day, and two remained there overnight, said Capt. Stan May, public information officer with the Tulsa Fire Department. One firefighter who had been released returned to the hospital Wednesday evening after complications arose.
Amanda Bland 918-581-8413, David Harper 918-581-8359