MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

February 15, 2013

Four homeless after fire

Unattended wood stove is apparent cause, marshal says

By Dylan Goforth
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Christina Williams spent much of Friday digging through rubble for clothes and other salvageable items after a house fire that left her and three other people without a place to stay.

Muskogee firefighters responded to a blaze Thursday night at 721 Hamilton St. that Assistant Fire Marshal Derrell Jones said appeared to have started in the living room.

Williams said she and her boyfriend, Robert Vetter, had been staying in the house for less than two weeks after Vetter began working with J.R. Roland, who lived there.

She said Roland and Vetter were at work in Webbers Falls when she and a friend left to go to a store.

“When we got back, the streets were all blocked off,” she said. “We didn’t know what was going on at first.”

Jones said the fire appeared to have been started by a wood-burning stove that was left unattended.

“There was heavy damage to the front room and smoke damage to the rest of the house,” he said.

No one was injured in the fire.

On Friday, Willams, Roland and Vetter were picking through the debris. An entertainment center in the living room and a stereo system next to it were standing but were melted almost beyond recognition.

“We lost everything,” Williams said. “All my clothes, everything.

“Probably lucky the house has rock on the outside, or it would have taken the whole thing down.”

Ryan Hardaway, the director of the American Red Cross in Muskogee, said the residents had been assisted with food and clothing.

Reach Dylan Goforth at (918) 684-2903 or dgoforth@muskogeephoenix.com.

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For information about donating to the American Red Cross, call (918) 682-1366.