By Travis Sloat
Phoenix Staff Writer
A Muskogee couple spent their Saturday picking through piles of soggy and blackened clothes after their home was destroyed in a fire.
Rick and Shirley Shipley, who have owned the home at 1005 S. B St. since 1998, agreed that getting themselves and their dogs, Chunky and Little Bit, out of the house in time was the most important thing.
“We all got out all right,” Rick Shipley said. “Most of the fire stayed in the attic. We were watching television and I smelled smoke. I told Shirley to get out of the house, then I opened the garage door and saw it was completely engulfed in flames.”
Shirley Shipley said she thinks the fire started as the result of a plastic vent igniting in the garage.
“We have a woodburning stove that is vented into the garage to help keep it warm,” she said. “I noticed the other day that the on/off switch for the vent had melted off.”
The house had vinyl siding made to resemble logs, and a great deal of the siding was melted. The south end of the house sustained the most visible damage, and the garage was consumed.
The Muskogee Fire Department sent three fire engines, one hook-and-ladder truck and one rescue vehicle to the residence on Friday night in response to an emergency call.
Shirley Shipley said the Muskogee Fire Department did a great job.
“They put the fire out, then came back a short time later to check for hot spots,” she said. “They were very helpful and very kind.”
The couple owns the house next to the one in which they were living. Rick Shipley said the other home would be ready to move into with a few repairs.
“I need to run some water lines,” he said.
Ryan Hardaway, the director of the American Red Cross in Muskogee, said the residents had been supplied with money for food, clothing, shoes, coats and a hotel.
Shipley said although he felt helpless watching their home burn, there was hope as well.
“It’s hard to sit there and watch it all go up,” he said. “There’s nothing you can do. But people think it’s the end of the line when their house burns down. It’s not. We’ll start over.”
Reach Travis Sloat at (918) 684-2908 or tsloat