McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

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January 23, 2013

Authorities search for suspects in Budget Inn arson

McALESTER — Authorities say they are searching for suspects in relation to first degree arson which destroyed a local motel.

The Jan. 9 fire at Budget Inn, 1872 S. George Nigh Expressway was ruled first degree arson last Thursday, according to Assistant State Fire Marshal JoAnne Sellars.

She said the fire was determined first degree arson because there were people in the building at the time of the fire.

No one was injured in the blaze that was reported at 12:37 a.m. on Jan. 9, and took more than four hours to extinguish, according to Brett Brewer, chief of the McAlester Fire Department.

Meanwhile Sellars said the fire started in one of the 22 units involved in the blaze and the building was “heavily damaged.”

She said the damage to the insured property was estimated to be $1.3 million.

Daryl Thompson, of Boone, Iowa, who was staying at the motel the night of the fire, reported three loud explosions.

The case is still under investigation by the Oklahoma State Fire Marshal’s office and the Pittsburg County Sheriff, Joel Kerns.

On Tuesday, Kerns said he is still trying to locate suspects in the fire. One of the suspects, who rented the room where the fire was started, has been identified but not located.

“The other suspect has left the country,” Kerns said.

He also stated that he has not been able to reach the owner.

“I have sent several deputies to the location and he hasn’t been there,” Kerns said.

Anyone with information about the fire should contact the Pittsburg County Sheriff’s Department at 918-423-1212 or the Oklahoma State Fire Marshal’s office 800-522-8666.

Contact Jeanne LeFlore at jleflore@mcalesternews.

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