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TFD: some calls this time of year are because homeless spark fires in abandoned buildings

Posted at 10:27 PM, Oct 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-10 00:09:16-04

TULSA — Cold weather means more emergency calls to respond to, for the Tulsa Fire Department.

Andy Little, the public information officer, says more fire emergencies happen this time of year as people crank up the heaters.

He says a bulk of the calls are for abandoned buildings and homes where homeless people look for warmth.

“As the temperatures drop, we always see an increase in fires. A percentage of that is because of homeless people trying to get away from the elements."

Little says fires go very wrong, sometimes, when homeless spark a source the source of heat in an abandoned structure.

"Sometimes, they start fires to cook food, stay warm, and we find fires from cigarettes."

Property owners put up boards to prevent this, but that does not always stop intruders.

"We ask the citizens, if you see someone pulling boards off of these abandoned buildings, that you call the police department."

In east Tulsa, someone broke into an abandoned hotel, and it went up in flames.

"We want to keep people out of those abandoned buildings because they're not only dangerous to the homeless, but they're also dangerous to the firefighters. If we have to go in there to save someone, and that structure isn't safe, it could potentially kill a firefighter."

Little says the crew tours some abandoned structures in the city, so they are familiar with them should they ever light up.

"The more familiar we are with the building, the safer we're going to be."