McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Police/Courts

February 11, 2013

Motel fire still under investigation

McALESTER — The cause of a Pittsburg County motel fire was not accidental, according to a report by the Oklahoma State Fire Marshal.

The report issued Tuesday states, “the cause is determined to be by other than accidental means.”

The Oklahoma State Fire Marshall released the Origin and Cause report on a Jan. 9 fire at the Budget Inn at 1872 S. George Nigh Expressway.

“The area of origin was determined to be centrally located behind the office area,” states the report.

The motel is owned by McAlester resident Ashok “Andy” Patel.

On Jan. 22 Assistant State Fire Marshall JoAnne Sellars said the fire was determined to be first-degree arson.

She said the fire was determined as 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

One witness who was staying at the motel the night of the fire reported three loud explosions.

“One sounded like it came from the office area and the third sounded like it was in the kitchen living room where the owner and his family were living,” said Daryl Thompson, of Boone, Iowa, who was staying at the motel the night of the fire.

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

Kerns said an insurance investigator for Lloyds of London who insured the motel for Patel ruled the fire was accidental and had paid Patel the $1.2 million that the building was insured for.

Patel could not be reached for comment as of presstime today.

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.com.

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