Fire ravages south Tulsa apartment complex; 16 families displaced
BY JARREL WADE & AMANDA BLAND World Staff Writers
Thursday, January 24, 2013
1/31/13 at 5:46 PM
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol says Leonardo Duarte is not, nor has he ever been employed with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.
Sixteen families fled their apartments early Wednesday as neighbors alerted them to a fire, officials said.
Leonardo Duarte, an Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper, said his mother, father and sister awoke to a neighbor frantically beating on their door at the Eagle Point Apartments, 5808 E. 71st St.
"She's scared and crying and warning all the people," he said. "She's like a hero."
The woman Duarte referred to did not want to identify herself to a reporter.
Duarte said he and his family were able to grab only some important documents before they ran outside.
"We were standing outside watching the fire eat my apartment," he said. "A lot of people were crying and screaming."
Fire crews were called to the apartments about 1:30 a.m. and later determined that the blaze began accidentally, attributed to an electrical problem between floors, Tulsa Fire Capt. Stan May said.
The fire had spread from an upstairs apartment into the attic and was well on its way to the building's other units by the time firefighters arrived, May said.
A partition in the middle of the building helped contain the fire to half of the structure, but the other side was damaged by smoke and water.
The Tulsa Area Chapter of the American Red Cross responded to assist residents.
No injuries were reported, but a family cat was missing Wednesday afternoon, May said.
Additional fire companies were dispatched twice as crews worked for an hour to extinguish the flames, May said.
He said the fire investigation would address whether fire alarms were working properly, but he added that at least some went off, alerting residents.
Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak toured the fire scene in the afternoon in advance of a news conference to raise awareness about the need for renter's insurance.
Duarte and his mother, Brigyda Perez de Duarte, were salvaging what they could from their apartment, which was heavily damaged by water.
Duarte said they were moving their belongings to his brother's house in Broken Arrow, where they will stay until they find a new apartment.
"The good thing is there was nobody getting hurt," he said.
Original Print Headline: Fire ravages apartments
Jarrel Wade 918-581-8367 Amanda Bland 918-581-8413
Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Leonardo Duarte and his mother, Brigyda Perez de Duarte, salvage what they can from their apartment after a fire destroyed multiple units at the Eagle Point Apartments complex early Wednesday. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World
Benjamin Zigrang (left) talks with state Insurance Commissioner John Doak on Wednesday at the Eagle Point Apartments. Zigrang's sister's apartment was damaged by a fire early Wednesday. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World
Benjamin Zigrang (left) and Mike Smith help salvage what they can from Zigrang's sister's apartment after a fire damaged multiple units early Wednesday at the Eagle Point Apartments. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World
State Insurance Commissioner John Doak prepares to speak to the media after a fire Wednesday at the Eagle Point Apartments complex in which multiple apartments were destroyed. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World
Mike Smith (left) and Benjamin Zigrang salvage a piece of furniture Wednesday from Zigrang's sister's apartment. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World