, Muskogee, OK

May 15, 2014

Lightning may have started fire that gutted home

By E.I. Hillin
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Penny Coppin woke up Wednesday morning to a loud noise that led to a 9-1-1 phone call.

“I woke up this morning to pop, pop, pop,” Coppin said.

That noise caused her to wake up her husband, Phillip Coppin.

“She ran in the bedroom and said, ‘Phill, there’s something going on upstairs,’” Phillip Coppin said.

When he went to the upstairs part of the home, Coppin discovered one of the door frames had smoke crawling up and out from it. He told his wife to call for help.

 The Brushy Mountain Fire Volunteer Department responded to the fire at 6001 Gulick St. at around 4 a.m.

“By the time we got to the scene it was totally engulfed,” said Brushy Mountain Fire Chief Bobby Joe Harris.

The Muskogee Fire Department and Keefeton Volunteer Fire Department also responded to the fire.

The cause of the fire is unknown. Harris said the fire marshal had not yet completed an investigation. He did confirm that the fire started at the north end of the home.

“Lightning is a possibility,” Harris said.

Coppin said the fire spread through the home quickly.

“In 10 minutes it was gone,” he said.

The cause of the mysterious popping noise has not been confirmed. Harris said it could have been ammunition.

“We thought it could have been shells,” Harris said.

 The Coppins were able to move two cars out of their garage.

 “We got the cars out of the garage and the clothes we were wearing,” Penny Coppin said. “We were barefoot and in pajamas.”

One of the vehicles, a 1937 Plymouth Convertible Coupe, was a restoration project the couple completed.

“We built it together,” Phill Coppin said. “It took us three years.”

A piano and a angel carved from a cedar tree that formerly resided on the lawn, were inside the house.

Other valuables were saved from the fire including a grandfather clock, an extensive model car collection, and jewelry.   

On Wednesday afternoon, Coppin wore a borrowed shirt and shoes as he cleared things out of his smoking home.

“I got out with britches,” Coppin said. “No shoes, no socks, and no shirt.”

The total estimate of damage is not yet known, but the Coppins were insured.

“We were waiting for the adjusters to come,” Harris said.

The Coppins will be staying in a motor home that a family member loaned to them. Friends and neighbors came to help them move out any salvageable items. Kenny Greer, owner of Mahylon’s, brought food to the Coppins’ residence.

“Mahylon’s catered to the firefighters and everybody who has come,” Penny Coppin said. “We’ve had loads of family and church family.”    

Reach E.I. Hillin at (918) 684-2926 or