The Guthrie Fire Department has a series of structure fires over the last few months. Guthrie Fire Chief Eric Harlow says many of the fires have been undetermined as to the cause of the fire following investigations.
The department has responded to seven structures in their district alone since December 2018.
“Many of these fires have a cause that was undetermined after investigation. This means that there was no definitive cause found. There were many possibilities, but none that could, without a doubt, be determined,” Harlow said.
He continued, “If we list a fire’s cause, we must be sure that the cause listed for sure caused the fire. Many times, this is impossible, even with all the resources in the world. Undetermined also means that there was no evidence indicating the fire was intentionally set.”
A fatal fire occurred on December 3, 2018 at the Woodpark Apartments (located at 1809 E. College Ave.). Due to the fatality of a 14-year-old, the investigation was turned over to the Oklahoma State Fire Marshal’s Office.
“The Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) joined this investigation due to the size of the structure. Even after all of these resources poured over the evidence, they were still unable to determine a cause for this fire,” Harlow added.
The downtown fire, involving Double Stop Fiddle Shop and Furrows Flowers & Gifts, has been investigated and a definitive cause could not be determined.
“I know there are several rumors around town stating the fire was caused by a discarded cigarette. While this could be true, we have no definitive physical evidence to prove that it was the cause. Therefore, without evidence, the fire is listed as undetermined,” Harlow said.
The most recent structure fire at 602 E. Springer continues to be investigated after a body was found inside.
Harlow added, “This fire is still under investigation by GFD and the Oklahoma State Fire Marshal’s Office, along with Guthrie Police Department. There are no other details available at this time.”
The fire chief says accidents do happen, especially during the winter months due to the cold.
“The statistics are present for the uptick. In comparison, during the first two months of 2018, we had eight structure fires within our district, so this year isn’t out of the norm for our department.”
Harlow says there are safety procedures you could do for your home and business.
“Do not store combustible or flammable materials/items near open flame, space heaters or any other source of heat. If you use a fireplace or space heater, do not leave clothing, blankets, etc. near the heat source. If you fear your wiring may be “iffy,” contact a licensed electrician to inspect the wiring in your home.”