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Late night building fire raised concerns among neighbors

OKLAHOMA CITY – Flames lit up the area near 28th Street and Walnut Saturday night, alerting neighbors inside their homes that something was very wrong.

You could smell the fire before you saw it, and the rising smoke mixed with the twilight fog.

“I went to the kitchen to the window and I saw the building burning down, like burning on fire.” Samantha Fuentes said.

“I looked downstairs, and said ‘Oh my god! Oh my gosh!” Amanda Nickell said.

Thankfully, the building was empty and no one was hurt. Officials believe a stray cigarette or careless camp fire from a homeless person sparked the blaze.

“Anytime you have a vacant structure like this that just has no power or anything running to it and it catches on fire, that’s a highly likelihood that it was transients or squatters that did it.” Major Shane Williams said.

It’s a problem that spikes during the colder months. Neighbors who live right next to the abandoned building are especially worried.

“I have seen a lot of people going in there and staying there.” Fuentes said.

Authorities say it’s very difficult to keep the homeless population out of vacant buildings during the winter.

Fuentes is worried a fire could happen again in the building. Because her house is so close, she’s afraid she might be in for another scare before the winter is over.

“I thought that my house might catch on fire if the trees caught on fire or something.” Fuentes said.

Neighbors say they will be keeping a closer eye on the abandoned buildings in their area.

The fire caused about $20,000 worth of damage.