|Updated: 7/02 3:03 pm
||Published: 7/02 5:33 am
Sixteen families lost their homes in a fire at River Park at Kensington Apartments near 81st & Riverside in south Tulsa.
Tulsa fire crews were called there around 4:45 am Tuesday. The fire was contained to one building. Stan May, spokesperson with the Tulsa Fire Department, said all sixteen families who lived there evacuated on their own.
Forty-five firefighters helped battle the fire, which burned for almost an hour. Fire investigators determined the flames started from a cigarette.
May said a man was smoking inside his apartment around midnight and caught his mattress on fire. He then tried to put out the flames using water and left his mattress out to dry on the porch.
May said the mattress smoldered for almost five hours and the smoke spread up in the attic of the apartment building, by the time neighbors saw the flames, they were huge.
Kevin Bagby lived right next door to the apartment where the fire started.
He said, “I woke up to a loud banging on the front door I ran outside .”
He and hundreds of other neighbors watched firefighters get the flames out.
At the height of the fire, they were 30 to 40 foot high. After getting all the hot spots out, firefighters helped families get anything that wasn't burned out of their apartments.
The Red Cross is now helping the families with a temporary place to stay.