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The Shawnee News-Star
  • Man helps friends receive new home only to find his own on fire

  • On May 19, the Stoops lost their home to a tornado at Steelman Estates. One month later to the day, one of their close friends lost his home to a fire.
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  • On May 19, the Stoops lost their home to a tornado at Steelman Estates. One month later to the day, one of their close friends lost his home to a fire.
     
    Craig Odem, of Newalla, spent hours helping prepare a new mobile home last week for his friends, Bill and Jamie Stoops of Steelman Estates, but when he returned home on Wednesday, he found his house filled with smoke.
     
    The Stoops were in Oklahoma City on Wednesday with Don Ellis, of New Mexico, picking out furniture from the Furniture Bank when Jamie said Bill got a phone call.
     
    “Everyone could immediately tell that it was something tragic,” Jamie said.
     
    She said Bill walked outside to talk to his friend, Odem, and came back in to tell everyone that Odem’s house had been destroyed.
     
    Ellis said Odem had been working 12-hour shifts at work, then coming to help renovate the home that was donated as a surprise to the Stoops family. He said Odem had worked three consecutive days without sleep to make sure the home was ready for the setup company to move the home to its new location.
     
    “He has nothing at this point,” Ellis said.
     
    Jamie said she’s upset because after Odem was going to work and spending his extra time helping her family and then something like this had to happen to him.
     
    “You could see it in Bill’s face,” she said. “It was really hard for him.”
     
    Jamie said because Odem is a good friend to her husband, it made it harder to hear.
     
    “It was almost reliving the tragedy again,” she said.
     
    Odem said he had to go in to work to do a few things, but had to grab some stuff from his house first. He picked some things up outside he needed then went to lock his door. That’s when Odem said he saw the smoke.
     
    “I walked in and looked down the hall and the back bedroom curtains were on fire,” he said.
     
    Odem said he ran outside and grabbed a paint bucket filled with recent rainwater and ran back inside to put the fire out. Once inside, Odem said he tripped and spilled the water in the floor.
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    “I went back out to see if I could get more water, but it was just too smoky to go back inside,” he said.
     
    That’s when Odem said he called 911. When the fire department got there, Odem said it was too late and everything was gone. Ellis said the fire started after the transformer shorted out some wiring in the house.
     
    Odem said for the past week, he would get off work at midnight then go out to work on the Stoops’ home and get a few hours of sleep before doing it all over again.
     
    “I slept at Bill’s house last night,” he said, but mainly he said he’s just been “camping out” on his property.
     
    Odem owns the property where his house was and his insurance paid off what he owed on loans.
     
    “I was so glad I was so close to getting it paid off,” he said.
     
    Odem plans on staying on his property and doing what he can to get a new home. He said it’s difficult to work so much and deal with everything else, but he said “at least the land is paid for.”
     
    “I don’t even know…” he said, referring to what the future holds for his living situation.
     
    He said he’s glad he has a close friend to lean on during this time. Odem said he stayed up the night the house burned and just talked and joked with Bill.
     
    “We’re here for both of us,” he said.
     
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