TONKAWA, Okla. (KFOR) – Breaking News Thursday morning as Oklahoma fire crews battled a fire at a marijuana grow facility in downtown Tonkawa.
The fire started just before 9:30 a.m. Thursday and crews worked all morning into the afternoon to knock the fire out. Officials said the facility is a total loss.
“Upon further investigation, they learned that there was a fire at 105 North Main Street in Tonkawa, Oklahoma, at the Kongfei Green LLC Marijuana Grow Facility and fire crews were dispatched and immediately began to combat the fire,” said Nick Payne, Chief of Police with Tonkawa Police Department.
The fire is now out, but Thursday morning as smoke traveled into town, residents who live near the grow operation were evacuated and other businesses downtown sheltered in place.
“We couldn’t breathe in here,” said Trulane Appel, a Mediclaims Inc. employee.
Since then, businesses in the area have resumed back to normal, including Mediclaims Inc. in downtown Tonkawa.
“Even with our door closed, one of our coworkers had to go home because the smoke just got to her. And even with her inhaler, everything, she could not breathe, and somebody had to drive her home. That’s how bad it was. I mean, it was horrible. We could not see,” said Appel.
Two Mediclaims coworkers told KFOR, something like this has never happened in their town before.
“Normally it’s pretty quiet. We don’t have any action around here. But this was this is one for the books,” said Appel.
One employee who works at the local daycare said she made the 911 call Thursday morning.
“I was sitting in the baby’s room holding one of the babies in my rocking chair, and I look over and there was smoke coming out of the top of the building, and it was really dark gray,” said Haley Matal, infant teacher at Bright Beginnings Daycare.
The group told KFOR parents were concerned about the fire being so close to the daycare.
“All of them. Yes. They were all calling and texting,” said Annika Day, director of Bright Beginnings.
Thursday morning, firefighters with the Blackwell Fire Department and Tonkawa Fire Department were on scene, along with troopers with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol to assist police with traffic.
“At this time, we do not know the origin of the fire,” said Payne.
One firefighter had minor injuries and was treated for first degree burns and was released from a local hospital.
“I believe that the roof came down and they were able to make a complete exit. One of the rafters grabbed his helmet, took his helmet off and, broke the strap, and he took a little bit of a burn on top of his head,” said Bryan Jordan, Tonkawa City Fire Marshal.
Currently there is no suspected foul play, but officials will be investigating what happened.
Those agencies investigating are the Office of Fire investigation with the Tonkawa City Fire Marshal, Oklahoma State Fire Marshal, the investigations division with the Tonkawa Police Department, and the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority.