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Fire that destroyed Tulsa school ruled accidental
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Fire that destroyed Tulsa school ruled accidental

Fire that destroyed Tulsa school ruled accidental
Photo Credit: Rick Couri
(Photo) Tulsa School of Arts and Sciences fire

Fire that destroyed Tulsa school ruled accidental

Investigators from the Tulsa Fire Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosions have determined the cause of the fire that destroyed the historic Barnard School in midtown Tulsa was accidental.

TFD tells KRMG the flames resulted from construction related to the installation of an exhaust vent in the school's lab area.

Listen to interview with ATF Agent Billy Magalassi


"We are so appreciative of the hard work of the Tulsa Fire Department and the ATF in bringing this investigation to a conclusion," Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Keith Ballard said.

Investigators were also able to determine the cause of the explosions which resulted in injuries to eight firefighters.  TFD said the backdraft, or explosions, occurred when oxygen was introduced into the area by firefighters entering into the room.

"We remain concerned about the safety and welfare of the eight firefighters who were injured in the blaze, and our hearts go out to them and their families," Ballard said.  "Without a doubt, we are privileged in Tulsa to be served by such fine men and women as those serving with the Tulsa Fire Department."

The larger explosive event, happened just moments later, was a sympathetic explosion.  TFD said it was essentially caused by a sudden change in the environment as a result of the original explsoion.

The Tulsa Schools of Arts and Sciences had leased the building for TPS.

The investigation revealed there were three monitored smoke detectors but Magalassi tells KRMG investigators couldn't tell if there was an additional smoke detector in the area where the fire started.

He says the smoke detector went off about three minutes after the flames were first reported coming through a window of the school.

TFD said the nature of the fire and its location caused the alarms not to activate.

The future of the school is still being determined.

"The district continues to explore its options with the Barnard property and we are still in information-gathering mode, working in conjunction with TSAS and our insurance companies," Ballard said.  "In the coming weeks, the TPS board will make a decision as to how we will proceed with the property."

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