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Man dies trying to extinguish Smithfield house fire

Posted August 12, 2009

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— A man died early Wednesday after escaping and then going back inside a burning house to try put out the fire, according to Smithfield Fire Marshall Paul Whitehurst.

A pot left on a stove at 423 Martin Luther King Drive caused the fire, which happened around 12:30 a.m., officials said.

Four to five people were inside the house at the time. The man, whose name was not released, discovered the fire and went around the house waking people up, authorities said. Once everyone was outside, he went back in to try to extinguish the fire.

Man dies in Smithfield house fire Man dies in Smithfield house fire

The man, who was in his 40s, was a visitor at the house, according to neighbors.

"I heard a lady saying, 'There's a fire,'" said neighbor Lamont Eason. "When I came out the door, I looked across the street and the back of the house was engulfed in flames and smoke."

Eason said he and other neighbors did not realize at first that there was a man inside the house.

"By the time I got across there, it was just too late. The flames and fire was coming out the windows and the back door," he said. "It's a feeling like, you know, you're helpless and you want to do something and you can't do it." 

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  • Professor Aug 12, 2009

    A hero, no doubt. My condolences to the family.

  • itsmyownopinion Aug 12, 2009

    Condolences to the family. Once you're out, probably not best to go back in, just grab every living person and pet you can on your way out and leave the rest to the fire department. This reminds me that many years ago I forgot a pot on the kitchen stove (had not been long since moving to a new house) and I don't recall what had my attention, but I had closed the kitchen door, leaving my cat in the kitchen. When I opened the door, the room was virtually filled with smoke, the cat was on the floor at the door I opened, barely below the smoke, so I grabbed him and ran. I don't recall anything actually catching fire and burning, except the pot of stew was burned black. Our Homeowner's insurance paid for the clean-up. Had I been distracted for much longer, it could have been a disaster.

  • lane817 Aug 12, 2009

    a sad story of one trying to help others

  • curiousgeorgia Aug 12, 2009

    This is just so sad.

  • Tired of thoughtlessness Aug 12, 2009

    The man's family is in my prayers. I am glad he was able to get others out safely.

  • jgilchr Aug 12, 2009

    I am sorry this man died. Once everyone is out just let the fire dept. handle it. The house and objects can be replaced through insurance etc.

  • SomeRandomGuy Aug 12, 2009

    If you get out and everyone else is out DO NOT GO BACK IN! Many people die that way.

  • hywilson Aug 12, 2009

    Bless that mans heart. Prayers to his family. I have never been in a fire, but I can imagine the horror it must be.

  • MakoII Aug 12, 2009

    I was in a fire. I stupidly tried to go back and get something. Though I had time. Inhaled smoke leaving. You just can't hold your breath as long as you think you can. And if that fire burns some insulation that has cyanide polymer, you can feint right away, one breath and be consumed.

    Fires are more dangerous than you can possibly think. Leave, and never go back. Leave, and leave quickly.