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May 20, 2014

Marlow fire investigation continues

MARLOW — In the wake of a fatality fire in Marlow, a grieving grandfather is left seeking answers, while the cause of the fire continues to be under investigation.

The fire, which claimed the lives of a 25-year-old woman and a 2-year-old girl, started about 10 minutes to 4 a.m. Saturday morning. Marlow firefighters arrived at the scene seven minutes after the call came into the station.

Marlow Fire Chief Ryan Hall said the department called for assistance from Duncan and Rush Springs fire departments because people were still in the home. When it comes to a house fire, people take priority over extinguishing flames, Hall said.

“As soon as I found out there were still victims in the house, I called out for assistance,” Hall said. “When we go into houses looking for people, we can’t worry about the flames. If one of our guys goes down, he need someone else to be there.”

Marlow brought 14 firefighters to the scene, and they were later joined by three Duncan firefighters and seven to eight Rush Springs firefighters. The firefighters arrived on the scene between 3:57 a.m. and 4:30 a.m., Hall said, with Rush Springs firefighters arriving closer to the latter time. The firefighters had the fire under control at 2:37 p.m., after working nearly 10 1/2 hours at the fire.

The names of the victims are not being released at this time, Hall said, because the cause of the fire continues to be under investigation. The Marlow Fire Department is receiving help in the investigation from the Oklahoma State Fire Marshal’s Office, he said.

Roy Womack, the grandfather of the 2-year-old girl, said he was devastated by the loss and wondered why Marlow doesn’t have a paid Fire Department.

Marlow’s department is made up of three paid positions and 18 volunteers, City Administrator Jason McPherson said. Womack said having a paid staff might result in fewer fire fatalities in the future.

“Marlow’s big enough for a full-time fire department,” Womack said. “This never should have happened. I just want to make sure this doesn’t happen to any other family in Marlow.”

Prior to Saturday’s fire, Marlow had been without a fatality fire since 2008 or 2009, Hall said.

McPherson said Saturday’s fire has had a profound impact on the Marlow community. But the city’s financial situation doesn’t allow for Marlow Fire Department to become a paid department.

“There is no greater loss than human life, and the tragedy of Saturday morning has affected our entire community,” McPherson said. “But the financial decisions this city faces must focus on the facts of day-to-day operations. We are all deeply saddened at the loss of two young lives, and our deepest condolences go out to their families.”

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