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Firefighters battle flames at historic Okmulgee building

Hotel Sparks fire
Hotel Sparks Okmulgee building fire
Posted at 2:12 PM, Jan 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-18 16:06:51-05

OKMULGEE, Okla. — Firefighters battled a fire at a former hotel in Okmulgee on Monday morning.

Flames poured out of the roof of what was once Hotel Sparks near Comanche and East 6th Street around 11 a.m.

This century old building was known as Hotel Sparks but was vacant when a fire started.

It was the talk of the town as billows of smoke poured out.

“It was just a matter of a snap of a finger and it was gone," Kenny Wares said.

Kenny Wares works at a business behind Hotel Sparks.

When he first saw smoke he didn’t realize it was coming from this building.

“I happen to glance over and I see smoke coming out from one of the middle windows," Wares said. "I thought 'Oh it’s over by the train tracks. It’s nothing here', but when I pulled my vehicle over to my bay I look down there and seen the smoke start pouring out of the second floor and so that’s when I ran in and got on the phone to call the fire department.”

It didn’t take long for the building to be engulfed in flames.

Okmulgee fire chief says the fire started on the second floor of the historic three-story hotel.

“It was very intense and put off a lot of smoke. It did not damage any of the structures to the north or south but the building is a total loss," Fire Chief Dewayne Hurt said.

It took crews about 45 minutes to put the initial flames out but around 1:30 p.m. flames were coming from the back side of the building again.

They got that under control and cleared the scene around 4 p.m.

They aren’t sure what caused the fire since utilities weren't turned on.

It's possible they won't be able to determine what started it because of the extent of the damage.

What many locals do know, its history.

"In the early 70’s it was a hotel and it used to be full," Wares said.

But they say it’s been vacant for many years sitting as a memory of the past.

“To see it going up like this is a shame,” Wares said.

The owners of the building were watching as firefighters put the fire out but declined to comment only saying it’s sad to see this happen.

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