Tulsa, Okla. - Tulsa firefighters responded to the report of a fire at the former Barnard Elementary School at 2324 East 17th Street at 5:02 a.m. Wednesday.
We're told flames and smoke could be seen rolling from the building when firefighters arrived.
KRMG has learned that construction workers had been in the building until about 7:00 p.m. Tuesday, and were working in the area where the fire appears to have started, near the science lab in the northeast corner.
However, School Director Eric Doss told our reporter on the scene the crew was not welding nor working on any electrical equipment, so he didn't know how they could have been responsible.
Fire investigators say it could be some time before they can determine a possible cause.
About 25 minutes later five EMSA ambulances were dispatched to the scene to treat eight firefighters who were reported to be injured while fighting the fire.
We're told some of the firemen sustained third degree burns to their hands and facial areas.
A fire chief said the blaze caused several windows to be blown out of the building.
Firemen reported several explosions at the scene while they were fighting the fire.
Firefighters positioned themselves to protect the private property located near the scene of the fire at 17th and South Lewis Avenue.
A resident living near 1500 South Gillette called 911 when she thought her home was on fire, but investigators tell us what flames she saw were coming from the fire at the school.
PSO was called to the scene to shut off all of the electric service to the school building due to the heavy amount of water that was used to fight the flames.
One of the neighbors near the school told KRMG that he heard the explosion, looked outside and saw the fire.
"I feel pretty safe. It's just been amazing to watch these (fire crews) work. They've definitely done a fine job," the neighbor said.
A Tulsa Fire Department official told KRMG that the fire scene will probably be an all day event.
Firemen were trying to work their way back toward the lab inside the school building where they believe the fire started.
Statement from Superintendent Keith Ballard:
“We are greatly saddened by the fire at the historic Barnard building and the devastating impact this has had on the Tulsa School of Arts and Sciences. They are a charter school partner with Tulsa Public Schools, and we are committed to helping them recover from the tragic loss of this facility. We will be working closely with TSAS Director Eric Doss to locate an alternate facility and materials so we can help them get back to the business of educating students. We are concerned about the safety of the firefighters who have been injured fighting the fire. Our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families.”
The Tulsa School of Arts and Sciences routinely accepts donations to support special projects (such as building a photo lab) as well as the school's general fund. TSAS board member Richard Wise says support after today's fire is especially welcome.
To donate click here.