Bartlesville Resident of Home Burned in Fatal Fire Appears Before Judge

Johnny Johnson stood before a Washington County judge via video screen Thursday. He is in jail, facing an obstruction charge for reportedly changing his story regarding a fatal house fire in Bartlesville.{}

"I slept in my van, because I didn't want to be around all that stuff," Johnson told Channel 8 at the scene of the fire Saturday. He was referring to drinking that was allegedly going on inside the home. He said he lived at the house near 300 NW Sunset Boulevard with his friend Jeremy Blair and others. Blair, 38, was one of the five people that died in the fire. Johnson said he was sleeping in his van when he heard police knock on his window.

Police arrested Johnson earlier this week for obstructing the investigation. Bartlesville Police Captain Jay Hastings said that does not mean he has anything to do with the fire.

"When stories change, is it because he honestly doesn't remember exactly what happened or is or maybe did he say something the day of the fire you know that didn't really happen," Hastings questioned.

Washington County District Attorney Kevin Buchanan said in court Thursday that Johnson admittedly provided false information. He said Johnson's van will likely be processed. He encouraged the judge to keep Johnson in jail until the cause of the fire is released out of concern that he would disappear. His primary address was the house that burned down.

Buchanan said Johnson plead no contest. His bond is currently $50,000. He has applied for a court-appointed attorney. He appears next in court January 22nd.{}

Police said interviews with witnesses suggest some victims texted family members shortly before the fire, saying they planned to leave.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) was on scene Wednesday investigating the cause of the fire. Hastings said the cause of the fire might be known in the next few weeks.