Investigators Say Deadly Blaze Was Arson
OKLAHOMA CITY – Arson investigators have ruled that a deadly fire at an Oklahoma City apartment was intentionally set.
Three people died Tuesday morning in the fire near S.W. 24th Street and Villa Avenue at a home that had been converted into apartments.
Investigators said there are no suspects and ask anyone with information on the fire to call the arson hotline at (405) 232-7766.
The fire broke out around 2:15 a.m. The house was built under old construction standards, including no fire stops, allowing the fire to spread quickly, Deputy Fire Chief Cecil Clay said.
Fire officials say working smoke detectors helped warn residents of the blaze.
The fire started suddenly and spread quickly. Residents had to flee with the clothes on their backs. One man burned his hand when he grabbed a hot doorknob.
At least one other person was injured when she jumped out of a second-story window to escape the flames.
Juilia Toon is one of the nine people who lived in the boarding house. She woke up her fiance after she saw smoke.
"He jumped out the side window and I jumped out the front window," Toon said. "All I saw was smoke and flames."
Six people managed to escape the blaze. Firefighters found two bodies on the second floor and one at the bottom of a stairwell on the first floor, Chief Clay said. The victim's have not been identified.
The family of Kenneth McReynolds, 52, fears he perished in the flames.
“We buried my son yesterday, and my brother was at the funeral with us, and even though he was terribly grieving, we managed to have a few happy moments, and I had no idea anything was coming,” said Linda Armstrong.
Some of those who got out alive said they believed the fire was deliberately set, that someone had tossed something down the hall, and investigators determined the fire was intentional.
That news was almost more than Linda Armstrong could bear.
"Oh, that's a big shock. I was praying that it was not an act of violence, and since it is, I pray to God that they find out who did it and bring them to justice,” Armstrong said.
Tuesday's blaze was the third fire at the building since 2003, according to fire department records. Fires were reported in July 2003 and October 2006.