Ice storms continue to roll through Northeastern Oklahoma at intensity levels many communities note is historic. At this writing, over 93,000 households in Oklahoma are without electric power as a result of downed power lines. Tulsa streets are covered with frozen sleet over an inch thick. Governor Brad Henry has declared the State a disaster area and churches in many Oklahoma communities are opening shelters for stranded motorists, the homeless, and those without power.
Between Saturday’s storm and the next front expected to reach Tulsa Sunday afternoon, over 100 Tulsa firefighters battled to save downtown’s most infamous abandoned structure. Fire broke out at about 2 am in the northwest corner of the former Towerview Apartments, 212 South Cheyenne, a building recently condemned by the City of Tulsa.
While investigations continue, electricity had long been turned off in the building leading some to suspect transients seeking unsupervised shelter may have built a fire to keep warm as temperatures plummeted. The Towerview was built in 1922 and city officials had ineffectively boarded the structure closed and declared it a health hazard over a year ago.
As the wind chill hovered between 9 and 11 degrees, Tulsa Fire Department personal worked in shifts to combat the bone chilling cold and moisture saturated air as they continued to spray water on the building to fight the blaze and save an adjacent structure. By late morning, firefighters had extinguished the blaze, but continued to search the smoldering hulk for hot spots they fear could reignite if left unattended.
Tulsa Today offices are located so close to the Towerview and we have written about it so often that several of our broadcast friends (tongues planted firmly in frozen cheeks) asked if we torched the building. No. We thought about it occasionally in the past, but no.
More seriously, our respect and admiration for Tulsa firefighters which we thought could go no higher did indeed go up several notches as we watched these brave public servants execute their good work in extremely difficult conditions.
To read previous stories on the Towerview, click here.
Under construction Tulsa’s new arena, the BOK Center, can be seen in the background with the Towerview in the foreground showing extensive fire damage.
Last Updated ( Sunday, 14 January 2007 )