Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

February 5, 2013

911 call logs reveal residents’ fears in wake of explosion

TAHLEQUAH — Recordings of the 911 calls made after a house explosion in Briggs Saturday evening reveal the initial confusion about what had actually happened.

Several callers phoned in after the explosion shook their homes along State Highway 51 east of Tahlequah, near TNT Grocery. Most weren’t sure what had happened, but believed something might have exploded nearby.

The first call to Cherokee County 911 dispatchers was made at 7:03 p.m., and several more followed.

“There was an explosion,” one woman said. “It was across from where we live. We could see it from here, it shook the whole house. ... I don’t know if it was a car wreck, if it was a house. ... It was really, really loud, though.”

Other callers explained a house had exploded.

“I don’t know, I just heard an explosion, and we’re worried,” one woman told dispatchers. “We think maybe a house or something exploded across the highway. Something strange is going on!”

Another woman told dispatchers a man was buried beneath the destruction and was yelling for help.

“There’s a gentleman buried or something, he’s probably going to need an ambulance,” a woman told 911 dispatchers. “He’s saying, ‘Help me! Help me!’ We can hear him. It’s right across from TNT. ... He’s underneath the house. He’s probably going to need an ambulance.”

Welling firefighters were dispatched to the area at 7:05 p.m. According to Cherokee County Undersheriff Jason Chennault, 50-year-old Jeff Saddler was pulled from the rubble of the home after what investigators believe was a propane explosion. Saddler suffered critical injuries and was flown to a Tulsa hospital Saturday evening.

The last report local authorities had was that Saddler was still listed as “very critical.”

Chennault said Saddler was home alone when the explosion occurred. The blast could be heard several miles away, and sent debris in all directions.

“From what we have seen so far, it appears to have been a propane explosion,” said Chennault. “The house is a total loss.”

Investigators arrived early Sunday morning to survey the damage. They believe the explosion was caused by a buildup of propane beneath the house. Chennault said a gas cook stove had been installed in the home prior to the incident, and Saddler was cooking when the explosion occurred.

A propane tank had also recently been installed, authorities at the scene said Sunday.

“We’re not sure if [the cook stove] was the origin, but the investigators tell us it looks like it was an explosion from a low point in the house,” said Chennault.

Part of the initial confusion about whether the home had exploded likely stemmed from the lack of fire at the scene, though residents in the Briggs area did report seeing a ball of fire shoot into the sky when the explosion occurred.

“It blew everything up and out,” said Chennault.

Chennault said Saddler had only been living in the home for about a week.

Pieces of the home’s roof, clothing, and other items were scattered in nearby trees. A door of the home was blown across S.H. 51.

Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers had to shut down the highway Saturday evening as first responders arrived at the scene, and debris had to be moved out of the road before traffic was allowed through the area.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • ts honor flight 1.tif Flight of honor

    World War II veteran Charles Harra flew missions for the Army Air Corps, and if you ask him which flight was his most memorable, he’ll say it was his 35th mission.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Man charged after leading authorities on wild chase

    Prosecutors have formally charged a man who allegedly led authorities on a wild high-speed pursuit across Cherokee County in late March.

    April 17, 2014

  • Sex offender bonds out after failing to register

    A Cherokee County man is out on bond after being arrested last week for failing to register as a sex offender.

    April 17, 2014

  • jn radiator shop.jpg ‘Greenbelt’ progressing

    Crews this week began to demolish an abandoned radiator shop at the corner of South Street and Guinn Avenue.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • ts slut walk.tif SlutWalk shines spotlight on crime

    “Two, four, six, eight, stop the violence, stop the rape; slut, slut, ho, ho, yes means yes and no means no!”
    This was the battle cry across the campus of Northeastern State University, as the student branch of the American Association of University Women held its third annual SlutWalk Wednesday.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • SR-TonsOffTahl-A.jpg Tribes, city, NSU launch Tons Off Tahlequah campaign

    When studies are conducted about whether Americans are living healthy lifestyles, Oklahoma often ranks poorly among the states.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • ts-Trail-show-1.jpg Jackson takes prize

    Cherokee Heritage Center Museum Curator Mickel Yantz kicked off his 10th anniversary at the venue with the opening of the 43rd annual Trail of Tears Art Show this past Friday.
    “The Trail of Tears show was my first exhibit opening when I arrived 10 years ago,” said Yantz. “Since that time, the show has changed so dramatically; we’ve added so many new artists, and the art work has excelled over time. It’s like Christmas for me.”
    Yantz said he was exceptionally pleased with the opening reception.
    “We had a fantastic turnout,” said Yantz. “We had a lot of fun and sold some artwork, which is great for opening night.”
    The exhibit is on display at the Cherokee Heritage Center through May 26. This year’s show features 130 pieces of art spanning eight different categories, including basketry, graphics, jewelry, miniature, painting, pottery and sculpture.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • churchguy.jpg Some NSU students find Church of Monett offensive

    They turn heads every time they show up on campus, and some students at Northeastern State University are offended by their presence.
    The Church of Monett, Mo., has made periodic trips to Tahlequah to stage quiet demonstrations in public campus spaces in recent years. They carry signs that read, “Wives, Obey your Husbands,”; “To be Married to the divorced is Adultery”; and “Don’t be deceived: fornicators homosexuals idolaters adulterers thieves drunkards - shall not inherit God’s Kingdom.”

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Teen sent to hospital after being struck by tractor-trailer

    An 18-year-old Tahlequah man was struck by a tractor-trailer early Tuesday morning on the State Highway 51 bypass near Mimosa Lane.
    Tahlequah Police Capt. Tom Jones said officers responded to the scene at about 5:40 a.m., when Sage Sohns was found injured and lying in the road. A medical helicopter responded to the scene to transport Sohns to a Tulsa hospital, where he was being treated for a closed-head injury, police said.

    April 16, 2014

  • TPS board hears architect presentations for cafeteria

    Members of the Tahlequah Public Schools Board of Education heard from four architectural firms seeking a contract for construction at Cherokee Elementary School.
    TPS plans to build a cafeteria-auditorium and a music room with a stage, which may also serve as a safe room during storms.

    April 16, 2014

Poll

What to you think of a state Legislature proposal to forbid cities from raising the minimum wage? Choose the closest to your opinion.

The federal government should set the minimum wage across the board.
States should be allowed to raise their minimum wages, but not cities.
Both states and cities should be allowed to raise their minimum wages.
Cities should be allowed to raise their mimum wages, but not states.
There should be no minimum wage at all.
Undecided.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Crew Criticized Over Handling of Ferry Disaster Agreement Reached to Calm Ukraine Tensions Raw: Pope Francis Performs Pre-easter Ritual Raw: Bulgarian Monastery Dyes 5000 Easter Eggs Diplomats Reach Deal to Ease Tensions in Ukraine U.S. Sending Nonlethal Aid to Ukraine Military Holder: Americans Stand With KC Mourners Obama Greets Wounded Warriors Malaysia Plane: Ocean Floor Images 'Very Clear' Sparks Fly With Derulo and Jordin on New Album Franco Leads Star-studded Broadway Cast Raw: Two Lucky Kids Get Ride in Popemobile Boston Bombing Survivors One Year Later Sister of Slain MIT Officer Reflects on Bombing
Stocks