Firefighters say still hot charcoal left over from smoking turkeys sparked a fire that destroyed a home in the 900 block of Howard Drive in Del City early Tuesday morning.
Firefighters raced to the house near Reno and Sooner around 2:15 a.m. to find the home fully engulfed in flames. The home's owner, Ray Soldan, says he woke up when the electricity in his house went out. He went to investigate and discovered his house was on fire.
Soldan quickly escaped and a neighbor called 911. Firefighters from Del City, Midwest City and Tinker Air Force Base battled the flames, but the fire spread rapidly and destroyed the home. It took fire crews about four hours to extinguish the flames and put out all hot spots.
Fire investigators say it appears smoldering charcoal started the fire. Soldan says he smoked turkeys for Thanksgiving on Sunday. On Monday, he thought the coals were cool enough to throw away, but fire investigators say the charcoals were still hot. They smoldered and started a fire.
Soldan is a longtime sports writer who covered high school sports for decades and wrote for The Oklahoman. He was one of the first inductees into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame. He's also in the Oklahoma Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.
Soldan's daughter, Angela Cato, says her father was also an avid collector of sports memorabilia, stamps and coins. It appears the fire destroyed everything. Cato says the most important thing is that her father is all right. She says he did not have his hearing aids in when the fire started, so it's fortunate he was awake and spotted the flames. She says if he'd been asleep, he likely would not have heard the smoke detectors going off.