Local and state authorities investigating fatal house fire near Hickory

Local and state authorities are investigating a house fire that killed a man Friday morning near Hickory.

Catawba County Sheriff Coy Reid said the blaze was suspicious, but gave no details.

Along with the Sheriff’s Office and county fire marshal, the State Bureau of Investigation also is involved in the probe.

Josh Randolph, deputy chief of the St. Stephens Volunteer Fire Department, said a call came in at 8:45 a.m. Friday about a house on fire at 3537 38th St. Drive NE outside Hickory.

When firefighters arrived, he said they found the brick split-level house and a detached garage engulfed in flames.

No firefighters were injured in the incident, Randolph said.

Officials haven’t released the name of the person who died in the fire.

A neighbor, Debbie Killian, said that when the man moved into the Springwood Terrace neighborhood about a year ago, she went over and introduced herself.

“I told him we were glad to have him in the neighborhood,” said Killian, who has lived there for 30 years. “He was very nice, pleasant and polite.”

They met frequently after that, mostly in the mornings when Killian walked her dog.

“We talked about my dog,” she said. “Just general conversation.”

Killian noticed that the man, who appeared to be in his 50s, liked to do yard work at the house where she said NASCAR driver Morgan Shepherd had lived 25 years earlier.

Friday morning, after a friend alerted her to smoke in the neighborhood, Killian walked down to the man’s house.

“It was a big fire, and I was upset,” she said. “I really hate this had to happen to him. I feel for the family.”