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Officials: Man Attempts Suicide by Burning Down House

Posted January 20, 2008
Updated January 21, 2008

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— A house fire sparked by an apparent explosion left a man burned Sunday morning, Durham officials said.

Neighbors called in the fire after hearing what they thought was an explosion at 1020 Ninth St. around 9:15 a.m.

“When we got here the house was burning from one end to the other and two adjacent homes had fire damage,” said Andy Sannipoli, battalion chief with the Durham Fire Department.

Homeowner Anthony Khamala was transported to Duke University Hospital with life-threatening injuries. He suffered burns to his face, hands and legs. He was listed Monday night in critical condition at the Jaycees Burn Center at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill.

The house was a total loss, officials said. Neighbors said the walls of the house looked like they were blown out.

The fire was an attempted suicide, officials said. Khamala apparently poured gasoline around the house and then set it on fire. He also released his pets before starting the blaze, officials said.

Two other homes nearby suffered damage.


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  • Mango Jan 22, 2008

    Regardless of why this happened, it was incredibly irresponsible of the Durham Fire Department to have made such a conclusion and public comment within hours of the fire and irresponsible of WRAL and the N&O to report it as fact. There is no way they knew yet for sure why that fire happened at that time, especially with neighbors reporting a blast and apparent explosion. It was pure sensationalism and a true rush to judgment -- one that was very hurtful to the many people who know and respect Khamala in Durham. And speaking of which, Kingfish, if you know and care about the family, what in the world are you doing making public comments about Khamala "just going insane"? Why would you think such a statement was somehow kinder than what DB Cooper proposed?

  • dbcooper41 Jan 22, 2008

    kingfish, with all due respect i feel i'm the one not rushing to judgement.
    i understand he and his wife are wonderful people and my prayers are with them both.
    it just seems strange how quickly they proclaimed it a suicide. hopefully a thorough investigation will bring out the truth.

  • Kingfish Jan 22, 2008

    To dbcooper, unless you know the truth behind the story-don't judge. The family is suffering enough. His wife Lori is going to have a baby and for some reason unknown to us, he just went insane. It was little by little, but it finally come to a head this weekend. Thank God she was not in the house, but out of state. She has close friends and family to help her, but Khamalaā€¸, for some reason did not want help, or maybe people thought he would get over it. If you know someone who needs help, please people, find it for them!

  • dbcooper41 Jan 22, 2008

    if this was a suicide attempt why did they find him in the backyard? sounds like he was trying to escape. they sure were fast to proclaim "suicide".
    he seems to have been some sort of political activist.

  • haggis basher Jan 21, 2008

    Stange way to choose to kill yourself.....Just goes to show how depression really can mess you up.

  • kewlmom Jan 21, 2008

    itech, I agree. Though it is difficult for some people to make friends, people can at least turn to the North Carolina Suicide Hotline at 1-800-784-2433. This will help folks who feel as if they have nowhere to turn. When a person has reached this point, they often feel that even their closest friends or relatives would not understand what they are going through. Please, before you attempt to take your life, give the suicide hotline a call. They can help!!! 1-800-784-2433

  • itech Jan 21, 2008

    At one time or another, everyone in this world feels lonely and without alternatives. Khamalas' situation shows, especially in this age of "virtual" (read "superficial") relationships, it is important to have sincere, intimate friends you can talk to, to relieve your burden. Do you have such a friend? If not, you better start going out and meeting new people!

  • JAT Jan 21, 2008

    so instead of being dead, he's now stuck with disfiguring and life threatening burns. at least he loved his pets enough not to harm them. too bad he didn't realize that they needed him to live even if no one else did.

  • icy148 Jan 21, 2008

    This is so sad. I can't imagine what torture someone must be experiencing to kill yourself, especially in what is guaranteed to be a painful way.

  • Dr. Dataclerk Jan 21, 2008

    What a sad story. May this man get the help he needs.