NORMAN — The state fire marshal has determined that fires set in Cleveland County over the weekend were arson.
“The agent has determined that all three fires were intentionally and deliberately set,” Assistant State Fire Marshal Joanne Sellars said. “That refers to the three fires on Cemetery Road on Friday and Saturday.”
Sellars said a mobile home fire on Post Oak Road on Wednesday morning also has been ruled an arson. At least one death occurred as a result of the fires set in Cleveland County.
The investigation is ongoing.
The body was discovered in the burned remains of a home on Bridge Creek Drive near 144th Avenue Southeast and Cedar Lane after a woman’s brother reported her missing.
While the remains are believed to belong to the occupant of that home, the state medical examiner has not confirmed the identity scientifically.
Within Norman city limits, the Norman fire marshal still is investigating fires that are considered suspicious. A ruling of arson in those cases has not been determined yet.
“Those fires are still suspicious,” Norman Fire Chief James Fullingim said. “We’re still seeking leads and information and looking for suspects.”
Report suspicious behavior by calling 321-1444. Tips leading to an arrest could qualify for a Crime Stoppers award up to $1,000.
“There are a number of factors that go into whether someone could be held criminally libel for the death of someone who is killed by a fire,” said District Attorney Greg Mashburn. “Until those questions are answered by the investigation, I would not be able to comment on what charges would apply.”
The Oklahoma Forestry Service reports that nearly 9,000 acres burned in the fire that went through Norman, Noble and Slaughterville.
“It’s very sad that someone would want to start fires and damage other people’s property,” Slaughterville Mayor Bobby Cleveland said. “I think they’ve probably got some mental issues, and I hope we catch them. Whoever did this should have to visit with everyone who was harmed.”
Cleveland lost his home to fire the Saturday after Thanksgiving and has first-hand knowledge of fire loss.
“I can feel their pain,” he said. “Ten months later, we’re still realizing the things that are missing.”
Cleveland said fire victims are in need of shovels, rakes, hoes and water hoses. This can be dropped off at a former restaurant site at 156th Avenue and Etowah Road across the street from Twelve Corners Baptist Church.
“The owner of that property is allowing us to use it as a drop-off site for clothing and other donations for fire victims,” Cleveland said. “They’re trying to sift through the ashes for their personal belongings.”
State leadership including Sen. John Sparks, D-Norman, and Rep. Scott Martin, R-Norman, toured the fire damage from the weekend with Gov. Mary Fallin and representatives of the Federal Emergency Management team Thursday morning.
“This is tragic. It’s frustrating that individuals could be so thoughtless about the impact they have on others,” Sparks said. “I certainly encourage anyone with any information to report that as soon as possible.”
Joy Hampton 366-3539 jhampton@ normantranscript.com