OKLAHOMA CITY - No one was injured after fire destroyed a two story home on the city's near west side Friday, but city records show the property has been the subject of violations and complaints for months.
The Oklahoma City Fire Department was called to 1219 NW 8th Street shortly before 3:00 p.m. Smoke from the fire could be seen from miles away. Fire officials said when crews arrived on scene, the fire was so strong, firefighters could not get inside, and started work protecting a home to the east, which was damaged by the heat.
"This really was a defensive fire, initially. There was so much fire involvement we couldn’t get inside," said Battalion Chief and department public information officer Benny Fulkerson.
"Initially, we did not know if anyone was inside or not. But I did speak to an Oklahoma City police officer, he was in the neighborhood before we even got on scene, and he did see people coming out of the house before we arrived," Fulkerson said. "So we don't know how many were inside at the time, but we do know that people were inside."
Fulkerson two searches of the home were conducted and no one was found inside. The property owner, Douglas Meadows, arrived at the scene nearly three hours after the fire started and declined to talk to News 4 on camera, but said three people should have been living in the 5,300 sq. ft. home. However, according to the Oklahoma Red Cross, eight people are receiving assistance after being displaced by the fire.
Fire investigators are working to determine the cause of the blaze.
Built in 1906, the two story home was converted at some point to house six apartment units with 12 bedrooms, according to online county property records. Officials said the home had no gas service, but did have electrical service.
According to city records, the property received a number of complaints, citations and violation notices issued since January 2017. At the time of the fire, it had four open code enforcement service requests relating to zoning violations, abandoned and dilapidated house or structure, and junk and debris not at the curb, according to online records. Since January, two complaints regarding drug, gang or prostitution activity have been referred to the Oklahoma City Police Department.
When asked about the numerous complaints, citations and code violations his property had incurred over the last year, Meadows said he planned on boarding the property up Monday.
However, some who live nearby said the property has been a point of contention for months. A visibly irritated Tyler Holmes, who drove up as firefighters were getting the fire put out, said he's complained about the property to the city for months.
"I've reported this property in as many ways as possible. There's been broken windows, graffiti on the front door earlier this week, there's people in and out," said Holmes, who lives about ten blocks north. "It was just a completely neglected property that wasn't cared for. And this problem, it's been ongoing for months."
Holmes said he's been concerned about the state of the structure, that it could pose a death trap if not addressed, and that the dilapidated property is just one example of a much larger problem in the city.
"This isn't one house. This is literally hundreds, possibly thousands, in our city," Holmes said. "And it's not the people that were living here. It's not that. It falls on something bigger."