Vacant store fire blamed on arson

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Reported by: Janai Norman
Updated: 10/25/2013 7:18 am Published: 10/24/2013 6:57 pm

An early morning fire Thursday in a vacant north Tulsa store is a reminder cold weather is approaching. It happened just before 5 a.m. near Admiral and Harvard. Police say a homeless man broke into the old Piggly Wiggly and started a fire to keep warm.

FOX23 found firefighters interviewing Dustin Steward about his involvement in the fire at the vacant store when we got on the scene.

"They determined he was actually the one who broke into the building and started the fire to stay warm -- this time a year you're going to see it quite a bit," said Stan May with the Tulsa Fire Department.

May says keeping vacant buildings secured and a neighbor keeping an eye out for suspicious activity helps lower the risk for these types of fires. But as we're heading toward colder temperatures, May says there are also hazards to keep an eye out for in your own home, like fireplaces and furnaces.

"They are going to become a big issue this weekend," said May.

Those and other appliances like space heaters need to be 3 to 6 feet from anything that could ignite. Along with fires in vacant buildings, that's an increase May says fire crews always see.

"We see very few of those coming into this time of year, but now we'll see dozens over this weekend, the first cold snap of the season," said May.

And there's the concern for carbon monoxide -- which spikes as the temperature drops.

"That's an issue that sneaks up on you, you can't smell it, and you start feeling ill, if you don't get out of the building in time, it's a serious situation," said May.

Steward was booked for arson, burglary and assaulting a police officer.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of KOKI FOX23 - Tulsa

Mayor Maynot - 10/24/2013 7:30 PM
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Copper theft too #8 ^]] Copper thieves need to burn the plastic off of the wire to get #1 scrap payment.
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