A man was pulled from a tunnel inside a southwest Oklahoma City home after house fire turned into a crime scene Tuesday afternoon, police said.
Firefighters say there was an initial call around 6:20 a.m. to the home in the 2800 block of Texoma Drive near Southwest 44th Street and and May Avenue involving a house fire.
Fire officials determined the fire was suspicious and reported multiple points of origin in the vacant home. They asked neighbors to keep an eye on the property and report a person of interest if he was seen in the area.
Soon, one neighbor called investigators back to the scene, seeing a man near the property.
Around 10:50 a.m., fire investigators went to the home to question that person. The man was seen but refused to speak with officials and went inside the home.
At that point, family members went inside the property and said the man appeared to be unconscious in a three-foot diameter tunnel that went straight down six feet and angled into another direction.
Fire investigators said they smelled an odor of gasoline during this time.
“A fairly deep and significantly large tunnel. It's in one of the rooms in this home. It goes down several feet, six feet underground and then goes in a different direction. We don't know how far it goes,” said Oklahoma City Fire Department Public Information Officer Benny Fulkerson.
Oklahoma City police, firefighters and hazmat personnel were at the scene due to a strong odor emitting from the home.
Monitors showed a dangerous level of an unknown substance was inside the home and authorities forced fresh air into the home.
The man was pulled from the home after crews were cleared to go inside. He was taken to a local hospital.
Soon, a suspicious device was found at the property and the bomb squad was called.
We’ve learned tonight this is not the first fire, nor suspicious device found at the home.
The house has also been vacant for quite some time according to fire department staff.
“We were out here six months ago, for another fire at this exact location. That was back in December of 2017,” says Fulkerson.
Neighbors recall the first evacuation.
“We were asked to stay in our houses for several hours. Then, they came and said evacuate. We were out for several hours, probably four or five hours,” says Jerry Jefferson who lives nearby.
She adds sometimes there were disturbances across the street, but says the family seemed like they were nice people.
The report taken from back in December states there was a strong smell of natural gas and some sort of device attached to a gas line on the property. Investigators say that device had what appeared to be a fuse at the bottom.
While some are scared to see what will come next, Jefferson says she’s been on the block since 1953 and doesn’t plan on moving anytime soon.
“I know there is a lot of stuff going on in the neighborhood, but I don't see as being dangerous to live here,” she says.
There is still no word on who the man was inside the home, or any information about his condition this evening.