TULSA - Tulsa firefighters had to battle language barriers as well as smoke and flames when they responded to an apartment fire in east Tulsa Tuesday morning.
TFD spokesman Capt. Stan May tells KRMG Ladder 27 was on the way to another call when the firefighters spotted smoke pouring from the Eastgate Village apartments near E. 21st St. and S. Garnett Ave. about 8:45 a.m.
They got there to find the building fully involved, TFD told KRMG news they had to rescue one person. "He didn't have any smoke inhalation or anything he was asleep and a little disoriented and we had to lead him out."
They managed to get the flames knocked down after more help arrived, but not before four units suffered extreme damage.
A total of seven adults and 11 children were living in those units and are now without a home.
Another half dozen units also had to be evacuated until PSO could determine if it was safe to restore electricity.
The American Red Cross responded to help find food, shelter, and clothing for the victims.
Complicating the process was the fact that most of the resident spoke little to no English, and TFD had only one Spanish-speaking firefighter on the scene.
"He was a very busy man," May told KRMG.
KRMG talked to Dara, an interpreter for several of the people who lived there. She explained how the fire started "She was boiling some water and trying to shower with her bay and some other kids in the house. She said it boiled over and started the fire."
Dara told us it spread quickly and created a very close call. "She had to bust window to get her kids out of the apartment." And that wasn't all. "She had to kind of just throw the baby out too so they could get the family out safely."
May confirmed to KRMG that the fire started in a kitchen because of unattended cooking.
"When you're cooking," he said, "you need to stay in the kitchen."
A large number of fires begin with someone leaving food unattended on a stove or in an oven, he added.
No one was injured but the contents of both apartments were a total loss.