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Volunteer fire department land sold “by mistake”

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EL RENO, Okla. - A Canadian County official says a human error allowed county-owned property to be sold at auction, jeopardizing the future of an all-volunteer fire department.

David Anderson, District 2 Canadian County Commissioner, said the land on which the Cedar Lake Fire Department operates was inadvertently added to a tax delinquent property list (resale list), and sold at an auction last month to a county employee.

County Treasurer documents show Howie Sutton bought the property on a $100 bid.

Anderson says commissioners did not realize the "Cedar Lake L-2" was the location of the all-volunteer Cedar Lake Fire Department before they signed off on the property to be put up for sale, and he does not know how or why that property was put on the resale list to begin with.

Anderson said, "When we were presented with the deed to sign, it just had the legal description on it and we did not do the research to verify what was the current use of the property."

There are approximately 20 volunteer firefighters who use donated equipment to help their community put out house fires, grass fires, etc.

One volunteer said he hopes the new owner will return the property to the county after realizing the sale was a mistake, otherwise Sutton would have the power to shut the department down.

The Canadian County District Attorney's Office said they will be contacting Sutton's attorney Tuesday to try to reclaim the property.

A legal battle could be pending.