Boswell fire claims three historic buildings

Published: Oct. 22, 2020 at 10:52 PM CDT
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BOSWELL, Oklahoma (KXII) - Three historic buildings in one Choctaw County town are gone, after a fire Wednesday night destroyed them and almost took two more buildings with it.

Firefighters told News 12, they aren’t sure what caused the massive fire, but they do know it started at the old Bank building, off Highway 70 and 6th Street.

They said the fire spread quickly between the rooftops of two other vacant buildings, before they were able to put it out.

“You could see the glow from Soper- it looked like a pasture fire. You could tell something was going on” said Choctaw County EMS spokesperson Elijah Hubbard.

The vacant stretch of building can be seen sitting in the center of downtown.

“From down here, to all the way at the start of the city, it was completely blocked off." Hubbard said. "I mean fire trucks, and ambulance, police were here, It was a big ordeal, a big ordeal.”

Fire continued to smolder for 24-hours.

“The one on the end is one of the first banks that Boswell has ever had. We had two around 1900, so this is a land mark.” said Boswell Fire Chief Justin Todd.

The damaged portion is connected to three other buildings, including the town’s post office, and Jana Combest’s insurance agency.

“My phone started blowing up." Combest said. "My insurance customers were blowing my phone up, saying ‘your building is fixing to catch fire’, because a few buildings down it’s headed your way!”

Combest got to the scene as soon as she could.

“I ran up here (downtown) and people just met me. Just the community. They started reaching and grabbing, it was a Godsend. Everyone was asking what I needed.” Combest said.

In and out, people ran. Grabbing her files, her computers, her furniture out of the building.

Neither Jana’s insurance building, or the town post office caught fire but, the three abandoned buildings are ruled a total loss.

Fire fighters also told News 12 they had to shut off the town’s water for an hour, early Thursday morning because they used so much water, the entire town lost water pressure.

The State fire marshal is investigating an official cause of the fire, and told News 12 they have not ruled out arson.

“We just went into hyper-drive." said Boswell firefighter Laretta Todd. “We called in our mutual aid, we had 12 agencies respond.”

Those agencies are as follows: Boswell Police and the Boswell Volunteer Fire Department, Durant Fire/Rescue, Bennington VFD, Soper VFD, Nelson VFD, Bluff VFD, Speer VFD, Hugo Fire/Rescue, Messer VFD, Darwin VFD, Antlers VFD, Grant VFD, Choctaw County EMS, Sawyer PD and the Choctaw County Sheriff’s Office.

"We were so blessed with the response time. Everyone just knew what to do.” Todd said.

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