Vacant house with homeless man inside catches fire in NW Oklahoma City

OKLAHOMA CITY – Firefighters battled a vacant house, where a homeless man had been staying, early Wednesday morning.

The fire broke out just before 7 a.m. at the home near N.W. 9th and Shartel.

"When our firefighters got here, they did say they had some pretty heavy fire coming from the back of this home,” said Battalion Chief Benny Fulkerson with the Oklahoma City Fire Department.

The large flames and thick black smoke could be seen miles away.

"This fire just continued to grow. It grew very quickly. This was a two-story home, and they made their way upstairs and began attacking the fire upstairs,” Fulkerson said.

By that time, the blaze had made its way to the attic and kept growing.

"They worked on it pretty hard from the interior, and then they were ultimately driven back outside and it became a defensive fire,” Fulkerson said. "They had to make a pretty quick escape.”

According to fire officials, the home was vacant and the homeless man appeared to be staying there. Neighbors told News 4 he has been staying there for months.

"There was a person out back when we got here that we believe may have been homeless, and there was an extension cord coming from the house next door supplying power to the house. So, very unsafe situation here,” Fulkerson said.

Neighbors said they’ve called police about the man several times and that’s exactly what fire officials said you should do if you notice suspicious activity in or around an abandoned home.

"It's difficult to prevent this. This is at time of year, unfortunately, where we have people that don't have homes. There are a lot of vacant structures in our city. When it's cold, people find ways to stay warm. It's a dangerous situation, but we want to prevent these when we can,” Fulkerson said.

Fortunately, no firefighters were hurt while battling the blaze.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.