A former firefighter died early Friday morning when he was unable to escape a blaze that destroyed his Stanly County home, authorities say.
The fire marshal’s office identified the victim as Donnie Smith, 60, of Norwood. Officials say he was a former member of the Aquadale Volunteer Fire Department.
Members of that department battled the blaze that left his home in ruins.
“It’s difficult when you respond to one of your own,” Stanly County Fire Marshal Michael Roark told WCNC-TV, the Observer’s news partner.
A woman who lives next door spotted the fire shortly after midnight and called 911. Crews arrived at the single-story house, in the 12000 block of Old Aquadale Road, within a few minutes. But they found the building totally involved in flames, authorities say.
Fire officials say Smith’s three dogs also died in the blaze.
Roark told WCNC that Smith’s body was found near the back door of the house. He had tried to escape before being overcome, the fire marshal said.
Investigators spent hours Friday looking through the ruins, trying to find a cause of the blaze. They said that could take several days. Authorities say there were three space heaters inside the house, but they don’t know if those played a role in starting the fire.
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