Three Killed In Oklahoma Mobile Home Fire

Two young children and at least one man died early Thursday when a mobile home exploded in rural Cherokee County, officials said.


TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (AP) -- Two young children and at least one man died early Thursday when a mobile home exploded in rural Cherokee County, officials said.

Investigators labeled the blaze as suspicious after finding items at the scene that could be used in the manufacture of methamphetamine, Sheriff Delena Goss said.

A second man was missing and believed buried in the ruins of the trailer in the community of Briggs, five miles east of Tahlequah, officials said.

The burned bodies of a 2-year-old and 5-year-old remained in the rubble Thursday afternoon. Investigators were awaiting equipment to lift the collapsed roof from the flattened trailer before removing the bodies, Goss said.

``I can see the two babies and I can see one adult,'' she said. ``I'm suspicious, and I want to know what caused this fire.''

The children's parents were not home at the time of the 3:30 a.m. explosion. The two men were not relatives of the children, said officials, who declined to release the victims' identities.

The children's father had a criminal record that included an Aug. 24 arrest for aggravated assault and battery on an officer, along with other charges, said Undersheriff Dan Garber.

Goss said the parents told investigators they were at a casino when the explosion took place.

Witnesses reported hearing an explosion and what sounded like a gunshot, she said. Another witness described the sound as an exploding aerosol can.

``It's a tragic scene,'' Goss said, explaining that little remained of the trailer.

The Cherokee County Sheriff's Office, Cherokee Nation marshals, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms' arson task force were investigating, she said. The Department of Human Services also was on the scene.