Witness condemns fire crew response after three killed in Hammon fire

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HAMMON, Okla. (KFOR) – Three people died in a trailer fire in Hammon early Sunday morning.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but one witness’ account of the fire department response is drawing outrage from the surrounding community.

“By the time we got there, the house was a loss,” said Hammon Police Chief Keith Smith.

He said crews were called to the home located at the corner of 5th and Foster in the small town just before 5 a.m. Sunday.

He said he will not release names until the bodies of the two men and the woman found inside can be positively identified.

But Miyori Johnson, her sisters, and her mother, said they are certain that one of the victims is their brother, 46-year-old Delmond Wayne Gawhega Jr.

“We’re really all of us are all torn,” Johnson said. “We’re torn right now.”

As they struggle to mourn the loss of Gawhega, they said they were very disturbed after reading one man’s account of the fire on Facebook.

It’s a scathing critique of how the Hammon Volunteer Fire Department responded.

The post alleges the fire truck backed out of the station, took a long route to the fire, and that it took nearly 30 minutes for firefighters to get any water on the home after they arrived.

The post also said that multiple firefighters ignored his pleas for help as he tried to point out a man who could be seen passed out through one of the windows.

The post stated, “The HAMMON FIRE DEPT blatantly ignored my crys [sic] for help and at least one person died due to their negligence.”

“We had three agencies there,” said Chief Smith. “Elk City, Butler, and Hammon. Every one of them did a great job, in my opinion.”

News 4 tried to reach Hammon Volunteer Fire Department Chief Cole Ivey for comment. He declined to be interviewed for the story.

Chief Smith said after the investigation into the fire and the three deaths is complete, there will be an investigation into whether there was possible misconduct on the part of the firefighters.

Johnson and her family said they believe more needed to be done.

“We want justice for our brother,” Johnson said.

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