The cause of the fire has not been identified yet. Investigators say a man and woman were stuck in the bedroom when they called 911.
When firefighters arrived, they were met by flames. They also couldn’t reach the residents through a window.
“The front door was blocked by fire. We do believe the firefighter did ultimately enter the structure through that door, but we’re not sure of that. They were able to reach the victims, one of the firefighters was with the victim, the other firefighter was apparently trying to find a way out of the structure,” Assistant State Fire Marshal James Fullingim said. “The two residents were in the bedroom. Firefighters did make an attempt to rescue the victims, obviously it was a very challenging rescue. The last report we had was the fire was blocking the door. They did enter the structure anyway, they did reach the victims, so it was a very heroic act where they perished.”
The exact cause of death has not been released.
“The roof is collapsed and portions of the structure at this time, but there’s no confirmation that the roof collapsing had anything to do with the fatalities,” Fullingim said.
Gene Withrow, a hotel manager across the street, saw the whole thing unfold.
“I looked outside, you could see flames as high as the trees out there,” he said.
The tragedy will be hard on a town where everyone knows each other.
“I was hoping they weren’t there because those people come and go a lot. I was hoping they weren’t there, but it came to be that they were,” he said. “I imagine it’s going to affect quite a few people; they had family here and they’ve been here for a long time.”
“Structure fires are common. Fatalities are less common. Firefighter fatalities are less common yet. This is an unusual circumstance this department hasn’t dealt with before, and it’ll be a long healing process for the entire community,” Fullingim said.
Firefighters from other departments, including Alva and Woodward, were called to assist.
The State Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating. Officials have not released the identities.