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Police find person dead in burned Muskogee apartment complex

Posted at 12:34 PM, Jul 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-14 12:02:37-04

MUSKOGEE, Okla. — A person is dead after a fire forced nearly 100 people out of their homes in Muskogee on Saturday.

A cigarette sparked the fire at Greenleaf Apartments around 2 p.m. and the City of Muskogee initially reported that all residents had evacuated safely.

Muskogee police responded to the burned building on Tuesday after a person was found dead on the second floor. A medical examiner identified the person as Rebekah Carrie Lyth.

The American Red Cross set up a temporary shelter at the Muskogee Civic Center to house residents who've been displaced until they can find a long-term option. Of the nearly 100 displaced residents, they have about 35 people staying at the temporary shelter.

"We want to provide them with the blankets and the cots and the pillows and food and snacks," said Matt Rose, American Red Cross Regional Disaster Officer.

"We have mental health support on-site that's able to speak to these people individually. The case workers on-site to be able to speak to them face to face."

The city says many of the residents are elderly or disabled and meet the requirements for special housing accommodations.

"We do not have enough housing to place upwards of 100 people right away," said Muskogee Mayor Marlon Coleman.

"Our partners throughout the county and different facilities have been working diligently to do that."

The city has to determine if the building is structurally sound before letting residents go back to get their belongings. The fire has been ruled accidental.

Mayor Coleman says right now, the complex is uninhabitable because of fire, smoke and water damage.

"It's a humanitarian crisis that we haven't seen in a long long time to have to place that many people in housing," said Coleman.

The Muskogee County Housing Authority has already placed a few of the residents.

They'll work to find more homes inside and outside of the city in the coming days.

"We'll be here as long as we need to be here," said Regional Disaster Officer Matt Rose.

"Our goal along with the community's goal is to get these people placement as soon as we can."

Some people's pets are still missing, and the city is asking anyone who finds stray animals in the immediate area to call the Muskogee Animal Shelter at 918-683-8000. Anyone looking to help can donate to Neighbors Building Neighborhoods through the Muskogee County Disaster Relief Fund online.

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