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Tulsa couple displaced by fire shares experience and offers advice to others

51st and Yale Apartment Fire
Posted at 6:10 PM, Apr 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-06 11:14:45-04

TULSA, Okla. — A weekend apartment fire left several people homeless.

Twenty-eight people are looking for a new place to live after a fire at the Harper’s Lodge Apartmentsnear 51st and Yale. 2 News spoke with one couple about how they are doing following the fire.

Matthew McKown and Julia Waite lived in an apartment unit right below where a fire broke out on Saturday. They told 2 News after the fire they spent the weekend at Mckown’s parents' home out of town and the reality set in.

“I didn’t realize that we didn’t have a home until the next day," McKown said. "I didn’t realize we are now homeless like we can’t go home. I kept thinking we’re going to go to our apartment after visiting my parents and then I was like we don’t have an apartment.”

Since the fire, they say they’ve been dealing with emotional trauma. They’ve also been busy talking to their insurance company and trying to find a place to live. Right now they’re staying in a hotel.

“Even with the help from insurance it takes a minute to get anything coming in. So I’ve only got two days at this hotel and then I don’t know what we’ll do for sure,” McKown said.

He says the apartment complex is working to provide apartments at sister properties. He also says the apartment complex is taking care of the paperwork.

“Normally when you’re going to get an apartment you gotta do the application and this and that. I remember when we got in this apartment it took us a month to find the apartment at all," McKown said. "It was just a difficult process. So they’re doing most of that for us which is huge.”

The Red Cross says generally they respond to one or two apartment fires in a five-month period but since November they’ve had nine. The Tulsa Fire Department also says they’ve seen a slight increase in apartment fires over the last two years.

Moving forward McKown and Waite offer advice for others on how to prepare should this happen to you.

“Like have a bag or important things ready to grab. What are you going to take if there’s not that much time to get out of your apartment?," Julia Waite said.

Plus, make sure to get renters insurance.

The Tulsa Fire Department says the cause of the Harper’s Lodge Apartment fire is undetermined.

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