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Bizarre Fire Claims Life of Madisonville Man

Fire 03_house_300MADISONVILLE, KY (12/3/12) – Early yesterday morning at approximately 1:30 AM, emergency crews responded to reports of a structure fire at 413 Hall Street.

Madisonville Fire Department Chief Steve Stoltz told SurfKY News that when firefighters arrived, there was no visible smoke or fire, and officers from Madisonville Police Department were already on-scene.

“Dispatch had said that we possibly had one person trapped inside the house,” said Stoltz. “When we arrived on the scene, the PD had arrived prior to us and had conversed with the family, who had gotten home from a shopping trip, and had found a family member inside the house deceased.”

The victim was 57-year-old Anthony Civils. He lived in the single-story structure with his daughter, who returned home to find it full of smoke, according to Hopkins County Coroner Dennis Mayfield. She was unable to make entry into the room where a disabled Civils was confined to his bed. When MPD arrived on-scene, they kicked in the metal door to the fire room and found Civils already deceased.

The fire was atypical, in that there were no flames to battle when MFD arrived. Temperatures and gasses were elevated when firefighters entered, and positive pressure fans were set up to ventilate the home through the window in the room where the fire originated.

“The fire had burned itself out, basically,” Stoltz said. “It was a new house. It was sealed-up really tight. He had the door closed, and he was a heavy smoker, according to family members. It looked like he fell asleep, and the fire started and burned up all the oxygen and material in the room and went-out.” He added that this type of self-extinguishing fire is something the FD doesn’t see very often.

Stoltz said that the inside pane of the new, double-paned windows had broken from the heat, but the second, outside pane was intact. Had that outer pane broken, the additional oxygen would have fueled the fire, and Stoltz speculated a larger house fire would have ensued.

According to the official fire report, the investigation “strongly suggests the victim was smoking in bed and fell asleep. The fire started beside the bed where a cardboard box was being used as a nightstand, then spread to the middle and foot of the bed.”

Overall damage to the structure, which is owned by Stephanie Minor, was characterized as minor, while the home’s contents were moderately damaged.

MPD Lieutenant Robert Carter said that police do not have an open investigation on the incident, as circumstances appear to be purely accidental.

Mayfield said that an autopsy will be conducted today at the state Medical Examiner’s office in Louisville.

In all, 6 MFD units responded to the scene, which was cleared at 2:57 PM. Medical Center Ambulance Service and the Madisonville Light Department also assisted at the scene. The state Fire Marshal’s office was contacted as well, according to the official MFD report.

Casey Piscitelli SurfKY News

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