McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

January 22, 2013

Budget Inn Motel fire ruled arson in the first degree

By Jeanne LeFlore
Staff Writer

McALESTER — A fire at a local motel has been ruled as arson in the first degree, according to Assistant State Fire Marshall JoAnne Sellars.

“The fire is still under investigation but we have determined that it was deliberate and intentional,” Sellars said.

The fire at Budget Inn at 1872 S. George Nigh Expressway is  still under investigation by the Oklahoma State Fire Marshal’s office and the Pittsburg County Sheriff.

“It’s ruled as arson in the first degree because there were people in the building at the time of the fire,” Sellars said.

It 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. Brewer said there were no reports of injuries.

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 is estimated to be $1.3 million.

“The building was insured,” she said.

Pittsburg County Sheriff Joel Kerns said it is not known who is responsible for starting the fire but “we have suspects.”

“The room was rented out and we know who the renter is,” Kerns said.

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

Contact Jeanne LeFlore at jleflore@mcalesternews.com.