Cartwright Residents Angry About Fires - - No One Gets You Closer

Cartwright Residents Angry About Fires


BRYAN COUNTY, OK -- The fifth suspicious fire to destroy a structure in the past few weeks has residents growing increasingly concerned, and one woman says she is lucky the fire did not spread to her home.

No people have been hurt in the fires, although a dog was killed.  On Wednesday night, the flames came too close for one woman, as they destroyed a building just feet from where she had been sleeping.

It was dark when resident Shirley Pennell woke up to bright flames just across the fence from her bedroom. "They kept trying to pull me out of there and I kept trying go right back in there because I needed my car keys and my billfold," says Pennell.

Neighbors rushed to try and stop the home from burning. "I was standing down there and I seen it catch on fire and I knew she was in there," says neighbor Ricky McKinney.

"They hooked up my water hose and kept the end of the trailer wet, because it was on fire, the whole fire was out of control," says Pennell.

It was around 11 p.m. while they were en route to the fire off Wilalfa Woods Road and Vernon, when they got a call about a second fire on Wilalfa Woods where it appears a bag of burning clothes was thrown onto a porch.

That fire did not spread with the help of an alert neighbor who called 911, and a fire extinguisher brought by a fireman. "It scares me because if it burned down, then it's liable to burn my house down," says neighbor Terry Whitworth.

"They're all late-night fires. The firemen are exhausted and not getting a lot of sleep," says Cartwright assistant fire chief David Bray.

A man who says he owns the unoccupied trailer that nearly burned, also says he believes vandals have damaged a nearby vacant house. Owners of other old trailers have been burning them, and neighbors complain about a methampethamine problem.

They say possible arsons are the last straw. "I mean, I don't live in a beautiful home, but I do try to take care of it the best that we can, with what money we got, but it's just ridiculous they let it keep going on," says neighbor Dianna Kost.

After the fire came so close to Pennell's house on the same day as her 70th birthday, she says her present this year is what she already has. "I could have nothing, not even a car or a pair of underwear to change into. That gets you thinking," says Pennell.

There was another fire on Friday night in the same area, and three more a couple weeks ago. The fires seem to start at night and the cause of the fires is under investigation by the State Fire Marshal's Office, Bray said.