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Flames ripped through the brick building at the edge of Tulsa’s East Village Saturday night as a fire destroyed apartments and damaged businesses.

The fire sent smoke pouring across the eastern half of downtown while sixty firefighters battled to put out the blaze. Despite relentless efforts from first responders and a deluge of rain, the inferno left residences and restaurants uninhabitable.

As the flames subsided, the future of two Tulsa staples remained unclear.

Lowood, a relaxed specialty restaurant, and Hodges Bend, a bar known for unique aesthetics and creative cocktails, suffered significant damage.

An inside view of Hodge’s Bend. (

The outpouring of sadness was immediate, with posts of disbelief pouring in across the city. However, within hours that sadness turned into a resolve to help the businesses recover.

Community chimes in to support businesses

A GoFundMe created the next morning by Tulsa restauranteur Johnna Hayes has raised nearly $80,000 in just four days. This outpouring of support from individuals was quickly matched by bars and restaurants across the city committing portions of their sales to aid recovery efforts following the Tulsa fire.

According to the GoFundMe, all donations will go to the 75 affected staff members.

“The funds given to those who lost their income so quickly and traumatically, it will be given to them to spend as they need to get back on their feet,” a statement on the fundraising site reads.

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Tulsa fire leads to uncertainty

According to reporting from Tulsa’s 2 News Oklahoma, the structure of the building “remains questionable”. The owners of both businesses, Chip Gaberino and Noah Bush, say they’ve not been able to go back inside to asses the damage themselves.

Until they can, it’s unclear when – or if – they will be able to reopen the spaces. They will, however, begin catering opportunities soon and are selling gift cards for when they do open for business again – wherever that may be.

In spite of the damage and uncertainty caused by the Tulsa fire, both Gaberino and Bush say they are grateful.

“The love and support has been absolutely amazing,” Bush told the station regarding the community’s response to the GoFundMe campaign.

“I think it shows what Tulsa is all about and what our industry is all about,” Gaberino added. He said the outpouring of help makes him “proud to be a Tulsan”.

To continue supporting the employees of Lowood and Hodges Bend, click here.

To purchase a gift card, click here.

Nate Morris moved to the Tulsa area in 2012 and has committed himself to helping build a more equitable and just future for everyone who calls the city home. As a teacher, advocate, community organizer...

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