A Saturday afternoon fire that destroyed a 16-unit apartment building has been deemed accidental, assistant Muskogee Fire Marshal Mike Haley said on Monday.
The fire, reported at 3:37 p.m. Saturday, swept across the building's roof at Raintree Apartments, 500 N. David Lane, and damaged 16 units. No residents were injured.
Haley said the fire began on a second-floor balcony, but the department could not determine what caused the fire. He said an electrical short was ruled out.
"What we think possibly caused it would have been a combustible as well, so it would have burned away with anything else," Haley said.
Gary Goss, owner of Lynco Properties, which manages Raintree, said he knows at least 12 units are "completely totaled."
"The biggest issue is that the roof itself is completely gone," he said. "Continual damage from potential rains could damage lower units."
He said 16 households, one from each apartment, were displaced. He could not say how many were in each household.
"We're trying our best to accommodate everybody the best we can," Goss said. "We've got a couple of other properties in town we were able to accommodate a couple of people. Some people are going to move into some kind of family home until we can get back up and running. They already told us they want to move back in when that happens.
He said he returned security deposits and outstanding rent to affected renters on Monday "so they'd have some money right away to find additional accommodations.
The building's foundation, studs and frame remain intact, though the roof trusses were damaged, Goss said.
"There was a young resident here from an adjacent building that ran around and knocked on every single door to make sure everybody was out," he said. "There were no fatalities, which was the blessing of the whole thing."
Apartment maintenance worker Joe Harrington said each unit was single bedroom.
Harrington said he was able to help one resident rescue her cat on Monday.
"It had been missing since the fire Saturday," Harrington said. "The two young ladies came and said we want to find the cat whether it's dead or alive."
Harrington said he went into the resident's bathroom and moved fallen drywall.
"I opened the cabinet under the bathroom sink, and there it was, sitting there looking at me," he said. "The cat spent two days under a cabinet."
He said the fire started in the middle of the building and "took out one end."
The building's other end was saved," he said. "The fire department did a real good job."