Wagoner investigators narrow in on the cause of Sunday's fire
WAGONER, Okla. (KTUL) - An intense effort is underway to find the cause of a fire that burned four downtown Wagoner buildings and badly damaged a fifth.
Representatives of the State Fire Marshal's Office and the ATF spent several hours going through the debris Tuesday. They’ve completed their work at the scene, but still want to question some additional witnesses.
But it is not clear when their reports will be made public.
While the big fire cut the heart out of the city’s Main Street, it didn’t take the heart out of the town. They’re already making plans to rebuild as the fire investigation works toward a conclusion.
A bad Sunday night in Wagoner would have been a lot worse if the fire continued to spread.
Fire Chief Kelly Grooms said these old buildings burn like an oven.
"You got that rock on the outside that contains the heat, it really builds up a lot of heat," Grooms said. "So it burns fast, that makes it spread even faster.”
His firefighters were back in the building Tuesday morning pulling debris from the floors so the investigators could get a better look at the damage.
They said the fire started on the roof at the rear of the building that was in the center of the fire. There were utilities in an area that had built-up layers of old tar and tar paper.
Plus, the interior of the building was supported by wood that had been there since before statehood.
The woman who owns the neighboring building is glad she invested in fire prevention materials.
“We had rebuilt the wall when we did construction on the building," Stacy Showman said. "Everything we put up against the wall was fire rated.”
Showman believes that’s why her building escaped with damage instead of being destroyed.
The people here realize they’ve had a real loss, but they also supported each other when things got tough.
Police Chief Bob Haley said everyone pitched in to help.
"They were steadily bringing ice chests with ice and water and things like that,” Haley said.
He added people just stepped in and helped by doing things like crowd control.
“We had city employees that weren’t emergency personnel walking the streets and alleys and roads for us," Haley said.
The chief feels the people of Wagoner lived up to the Oklahoma standard when it mattered the most.