OKLAHOMA CITY — Firefighters were called to a vacant apartment complex Friday morning. It was the second time in 12 hours that crews made the trip to the building on northwest 23rd and Portland however, this time, a mayday call - a firefighter was in trouble.
“One of our firefighters actually fell through that hole to the smoky conditions below," said Battalion Chief Benny Fulkerson.
Oklahoma City fire received the call around 10:30 in the morning; many people nearby noticed the smoke.
“We saw the fire trucks show up, stepped outside and noticed the building next door, the apartment complex was on fire,” said Will Miller.
The fire was small, but behind the smoke was an unseen danger.
The veteran firefighter fell through a hole on the second floor, injuring his shoulder and back. A crew from outside had to tear through the boards on the windows and doors to save him.
“This was a vacant apartment complex, it's boarded up, there's no utilities to this structure but there was a fire here last night,” Fulkerson said.
Thursday night’s fire sparked in just about the same area of the complex as the one Friday morning.
Miller said he saw someone running from the scene.
“A crowd of trucks showed up and, as they started showing up, we noticed a gentleman step from behind the building, and he walked back behind our building and the officers caught him on the street corner over there,” Miller said.
Robert Nelson, 28, was arrested on a second-degree arson charge. The building owner told News 4 off camera that he chased the suspect from the building.
The fire is still under investigation, but fire crews have their theories how ones like these are started.
“It's either somebody is inside trying to stay warm, to someone who doesn't have a home or someone who initially set the fire,” Fulkerson said.
The fire from Thursday has been ruled undetermined. The suspect is being held in the Oklahoma County Jail on a $7,500 bail.