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UPDATED: One dead, two others injured in blaze at Nowata gun range

Officials at the scene near Nowata believe he went back into the burning building to get his firearm.

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NOWATA — A gun range customer who reportedly ran back into a burning building to retrieve his firearm died in the fire Thursday.

Two other men were treated for smoke inhalation after the fire and possible explosion at Nowata Firearms, located on U.S. 60 west of Nowata.

None of the men were immediately identified by authorities.

The Nowata Fire Department was called around 2 p.m. to the business, and firefighters had the flames put out by about 4 p.m.

Lenapah Fire Chief Doug Sonenberg said a 50- to 60-year-old man died at the scene, and he was believed to have been a customer at the range.

Nowata Firearms manager Ian Chambers said four customers were inside at the time of the fire. All four escaped from the building, he said, but one ran back inside to retrieve his gun.

It’s believed that is the man who died in the blaze.

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One injured man was pulled from inside the burning structure and was taken to a hospital, Sonenberg said. Another was transported to the hospital by private vehicle.

Chambers said a store employee told him that those inside heard what sounded like raindrops falling on the roof. The employee went outside, saw nothing, and returned inside, Chambers said.

“Then he said he heard what sounded like … an explosion,” Chambers said. “He said he was knocked backwards off his feet, and he showed me the bruise on his head.”

Chambers said he didn’t believe anything inside the building could have caused an explosion like the employee described.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the State Fire Marshal’s Office were called to the scene to investigate.

Sonenberg said the building, which resembles an airplane hanger, was likely a total loss.

Both the front and back of the building buckled due to the heat inside. Firefighters remained at the scene putting out “hot spots.”

Chambers said the structure was built “about nine years ago” and had two gun ranges inside — a 25-yard range and a 50-yard range.

Nowata Firearms LLC advertises itself as “Oklahoma’s longest indoor range.”

Dylan Goforth 918-581-8451

dylan.goforth@tulsaworld.com

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