One person was killed Friday morning around 5 a.m. when fire swept through his house on the 1700 block of Prater St. at Ford Lane in Dayton. According to Liberty County Fire Marshal Bill Hergemueller, the 56-year-old man was home alone when fire erupted from a trash can and spread to other parts of the wood-framed structure.
The bedridden man called his sister, who lives nearby, and explained to her that his trash can was on fire. When she arrived, she attempted to move the trash can and get her brother out of the house, but the fire and smoke were too intense, Hergemueller said.
“She was not able to get him out, so he succumbed to the smoke and flames,” the fire marshal said.
Hergemueller suspects the fire started from cigarette ashes that were in the trash can.
“We know he was a smoker and we know the fire started in the trash can,” he said. “Will we ever be able to pinpoint what exactly caused the fire? Probably not. All the evidence is burned.”
An autopsy has been ordered. Pct. 4 Justice of the Peace Larry Wilburn was called to the scene to make the pronouncement of death. Sterling Funeral Home will transport the body to Beaumont for the autopsy.
The name of the victim is being withheld pending the notification of next of kin.
Dayton and Kenefick volunteer fire departments both responded to the call for help in Dayton. However, Kenefick firefighters were pulled away to another house fire on CR 639.
According to Asst. Fire Marshal Craig Powell, the Kenefick house fire originated on the back porch of a mobile home where a heat lamp was being used to keep animals warm. One rabbit was killed, but the female occupant of the home escaped injury thanks to a neighbor who saw the fire and alerted her even before her home’s smoke detectors had gone off, Powell said.
Powell said the Good Samaritan’s actions may have spared the woman’s life and the complete loss of her home. Kenefick firefighters, who responded within minutes, are being credited for putting out the fire quickly before the entire home was consumed in flames.
Powell said the home has extensive water and smoke damage, and may end up being a total loss, but the fire appears to have mostly destroyed just the area around the back porch.
He cautions residents against using heat lamps to keep animals warm, particularly when they are being used at or near a home. He said a warm blanket and blocking the wind will usually suffice in keeping an animal warm during wintertime.
Friday morning’s fatal house fire was the second fatal fire in Liberty County this year. In February, a Cleveland man and his dog perished in a fire that is believed to have started around a fireplace. (See related: https://bluebonnetnews.com/2020/02/20/house-fire-in-cleveland-kills-elderly-man-dog/