NORMAN — The cause of the fire that took the lives of a father and his 3-year-old daughter in southeast Norman last month was determined to be electrical in nature said Deputy Fire Chief Jim Bailey on Tuesday.
Firefighters were called to the structure fire in the early morning hours on Jan. 30 at 2705 Richardson Drive. They entered the burning garage and found 3-year-old Amber Finley in the living room of the single-story home. Her father, 24-year-old Cory Finley was found under fire debris in the garage.
Cory and his daughter lived at the house, which was his parents’. The parents, Richard and Brenda Finley, worked as truck drivers so they were out on the road a lot, a neighbor said.
When neighbors across the street from the Finley’s saw the fire, they were able to warned others, but it was too late to help the two inside the home. Melanie Meiser, a neighbor across the street said she felt helpless because all they could do was wait for the fire department to put the fire out.
“The wooden top over the garage was on fire and there was so much smoke you couldn’t see the front doors or windows,” Meiser said.
It took 20 firefighters about 40 minutes to contain the blaze. Preliminary damage estimated the home and its contents to be $135,000.
The deputy fire chief said the home had a smoke detector, but it had no batteries.
“We preach that all the time, to have working smoke detectors that have batteries,” Bailey said. Smoke detectors should be replaced if they are 10 years old or older, even if they still beep when they are checked.
Neighbors remembered Cory and Amber as a “normal, little family”.
“She (Amber) was as cute as a bug,” said neighbor Ed Moore. “He (Cory) just loved that little girl.”
Moore said Cory often took his daughter to the park or put her on the back seat of his bike to go bike riding. Amber’s dog, Buster, was also found curled up beside her and died as a result of the fire.
So far, these have been the only fire deaths to occur in Norman this year. Norman had three fire deaths in 2012.