Firefighters encourage alternatives to dangerous vacant houses

A fire at a house on Blackwelder Ave. killed three people early Saturday. (KOKH/Will Maetzold)

Dianna Mullikin said she knew some of the people that stayed at a vacant house on N. Blackwelder Ave. on Friday night.

The day after, she came by the scene to see the extent of the fire that killed three people early on Saturday.

RELATED: OKCFD: Early morning fire leaves 3 dead, one in the hospital.

"I feel bad for anyone who thought they needed to go there and start a fire where they didn't belong," Mullikin said.

Mullikin said she stayed at the house one night and there's lots of drug activity that happens there. She said she wishes people without a home could find a safer place to stay.

"In my heart I feel really bad," she said. "Because where there's hope for anybody, there's hope. Those people had hope."

But the Oklahoma City fire department was on scene Saturday clearing out the site of the fire. They said it's hard to say how many people were inside when the fire started, but found three bodies during their investigation.

The fire was so big, they had to bring in extra city crews to clear out debris and search through the wreckage for any more bodies.

Battalion chief Jim Williams said he hopes people in this situation could find resources to find them.

"We just encourage all the homeowners who own vacant structures like this to do the best they can of keeping them boarded up," Williams said. "For the neighbors, if they see things like this, call the police department, call 911 so they can do a better job of securing these structures."

One option for the homeless during the cold is the Salvation Army shelter on N. Pennsylvania Ave. that is open anytime it is below 32 degrees.

Williams said it would be much better than staying in one of these homes.

"A lot of times there's holes," he said. "The roof and walls and floors. When a small fire does get started, it's just a lot easier. We call it flow path."

The fire department hasn't released the names of the victims but said they've recovered the body of a male and female.

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