Fayetteville, N.C. — The brother of a man whose body was found inside a shed that burned down Sunday in Fayetteville said he spotted smoke and broke a window trying to save him.
But David Pittman said it was too late for 54-year-old Williman Pittman.
Authorities have not determined the cause of the fire, which broke out about 7:30 p.m. Sunday in the small gray shed behind William Pittman's home at 5405 Cardigon Court.
However, David Pittman said his brother often smoked in bed and likely fell asleep with a lit cigarette.
William Pittman was mentally ill and had been living in the shed for several months, David Pittman said. He refused to live in the house and would go for days at a time without leaving or answering the door.
Fayetteville police said foul play is not suspected. Pittman's body has been sent to the medical examiner to determine exact cause of death.
Neighbor Tara Smith said despite his mental illness, William Pittman often came over to check on her husband, who is in hospice care.
“He was a good man,” she said. “He kept to himself. He was always doing some time of yard work or basically kept to himself.”
Pittman was diagnosed with schizophrenia 25 years ago and was in and out of psychiatric hospitals, his brother said.
His death marked the third for the family in the last nine days. An aunt and cousin both just died from cancer, David Pittman said.