Multiple Crews Work Large Fire At Downtown Poteau Building

POTEAU (KFSM) -- Multiple crews were on the scene of a structure fire in Poteau early Tuesday morning (Jan. 2).

The fire happened on the 300 block of Dewey Avenue at an apartment next to Western Auto.

Poteau, Wister, Panama, Spiro, Pocola, Monroe and Shady Point crews were all on scene working to put out the flames.

"When we arrived we had heavy fire coming out of this second story apartment above the Western Auto Store," said Poteau Fire Chief Jon Pickel. "Fire was coming out of the west side windows and eventually we did have fire coming out of the roof of the apartment building."

According to Chief Pickel, the apartment is a total loss. "To our knowledge no one was inside, but there are signs that someone was living in the apartment."

Chief Pickel tells 5NEWS he talked with the landlord who said no one is paying rent at this time and a previous tenant moved out a while ago.

Firefighters said flames also went through the floor of the apartment building and onto the roof of the auto store, causing some damage to the business.

Crews had to drop sawdust on the street and sidewalk because of the ice that formed.

Crews faced multiple challenges while working to extinguish the flames. "Our biggest problem was access to the fire. We had one set of stairways that went relatively close to the fire," Chief Pickel said. "One of the hazards we had was how cold it is. Any water that got on the ground instantly turned to ice. I've seen firemen slipping and falling all night long."

The cause of the fire is under investigation.