Abandoned NW OKC Apartment Complex Set Ablaze, Again

Sunday, August 2nd 2015, 10:44 pm
By: News 9

For the second time this month, firefighters were called to the old Lantana Apartments in northwest Oklahoma City.

That area has seen a rash of fires at abandoned buildings.

Over the years, dozens of fires have been intentionally set at this abandoned complex. It creates a dangerous eye sore that the city is unable to touch.

The Lantana Apartments have been vacant for years, but in the last month, they've caught fire twice. On Sunday afternoon, fire shot out of windows while thick smoke filled the air.

“We went in totally defensive right off the bat with some heavy fire streams and we were able to get it knocked down pretty quick,” said District Chief Cathy Hayes, Oklahoma City Fire Department.

While the cause of the fire is still under investigation, its current state and past history leave fire officials believing it was yet again arson.

“If you think about it, it's a vacant building. There's no utilities to it. So yeah, it had to be pretty much set,” Hayes said.

The charred skeleton-like remnants of the apartment complex show the scars of  other intentionally set fires.

“We kinda knew the area already," Hayes said. “We've been over here several times in the past month on fires.”

Several city notices and warnings left tattered by the sun and rain remain untouched. The complex owners live in California, and, according to the city, they owe more than $80,000 in back fines.

But it would cost the city around a $1 million to take the complex down. The city is left defenseless when it comes to keeping the neighborhood safe. Until its owners do something, the tattered and scarred apartments are left vulnerable for more fires.

“It's not so much frustrating because that's our job. But the frustrating thing is that we gotta look at the safety of our folks and of the citizens around in the area,” Hayes said.

Despite the recent number of abandoned building fires, the department does not believe there is a current problem nor do they believe any of the fires are connected.