Investigators say photograph could lead to a break in an arson case in Tulsa

TULSA, Okla. — A mystery surrounds a fire investigation, months after a home burned to the ground in south Tulsa.

It snowed more than four inches in Tulsa on Feb. 2, 2022. Fire crews lit up a neighborhood near 71st and Sheridan as they battled the fire in freezing temperatures.

“It was a lot of work and a lot of cold,” said Tulsa firefighter Lt. Justin Weber.

Weber and his crew members said they could see the flames from the fire station, which was a mile away. No one lived in the burning home, but the flames were moving towards a neighboring home, where an elderly couple lived.

Weber said their home was dangerously close to catching fire, and that the roof was even “smoking.”

“We’re pretty fortunate to save the house next door,” said Weber. “We could’ve very easily had two people trapped in this house.”

FOX23 continued to call fire investigators to see how the fire started. The cause is still “undetermined.”

FOX23 spoke with Helen Goforth, a neighbor. She described what she saw the night of the fire.

“I started to go to bed around 12:30, and I suddenly noticed the lights flashing. I got up and looked out of the window,” said Goforth. “The whole house was consumed. It started in the back and the flames were up way high.”

“When I saw it, I said it’s arson,” said Goforth.

Goforth said the home had been empty for two years. “There’s others that feel the same way that I do, but I have no proof at all.”

Kimberly Vining agrees. She is a relator with Coldwell Banking Select. Vining says the house was listed for sale in Oct. 2021 for $290,000. It suddenly dropped in price by $100,000.

Her buyer, a potential investor, jumped on it.

However, Vining noticed some strange things on the listing. “Doorways had been closed off and sheet-rocked closed. There had been what seemed like tunnels and crawl spaces,” said Vining.

“I would say it’s one of the most unusual things I’ve ever seen,” said Vining.

Before they could close, the home caught on fire.

FOX23 reached out to the buyer, who said he’s not ready to do an interview. He also said he had nothing to do with the fire and he’s cooperating with investigators.

Vining reported a dangerous issue with the fireplace. It had a gas leak on the outside of the valve. However, she had service turned off to the home.

Fire investigators say the blaze started in the attic. There’s also a certain piece of evidence that may turn into a crucial piece of the investigation.

A neighbor was taking a picture of the winter weather outside before the fire. A minivan was spotted in his picture, which happened about an hour before the fire started.

The city plans to tear down the home within 30 days.

If you have any information about this fire, call 918-596-COPS. You can remain anonymous.