The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

December 3, 2012

Man dies in fire

By Ian Faulkner, Staff Writer

Monday, December 3, 2012 — Thursday night at about midnight, 911 was contacted in regards to a fire at 12086 Old Aquadale Road.

Emergency crews responded shortly thereafter and arrived on the scene to find the home fully engulfed in flames.

Nine hours after the fact, smoke still clung to the surrounding countryside. Ash continued to fall around the devastation, while the remains of the building kept on smoldering.

“By the time I got here, one side of the house had already caved in,” Aquadale VFD Chief Terry Smith said.

“A neighbor called in the fire around midnight. The neighbor believed someone to be in the house. The house was owned by Donnie Smith,” Stanly County Fire Marshal Michael Roark said.

A body was found in the home, near the back door, at approximately 2 a.m. An obituary received by the SNAP Saturday confirmed the man’s identity to be Donnie Warren Smith, a former Aquadale firefighter.

Firefighters also reported that three canine bodies had been found inside the structure, as well.

“The body was found near the back door. The occupant could have been trying to escape, we don’t know. The occupant did not make it out, though,” Roark said.

According to Fire Chief Terry Smith, who had spoken with Donnie Smith’s children, if the dogs were at the home, then he would have been there, as well.

“The dogs used to ride around with him in the front seat of his car,” Smith said.

The cause of the fire has yet to be determined.

“Right now, we have no idea what could have caused the fire. There were numerous potential ignition sources. He had space heaters. He was a smoker,” said the fire marshal.

He added that it could have also been electrical malfunction.

“The source of the fire will be very difficult to determine,” said Roark.

Roark explained that these types of incidents come in spurts, but relayed that in the winter, there are more fires related to heating causes.

“If you use a space heater in your home, keep it at least three feet away from any combustibles. Plug it directly into a wall, avoiding extension cords or power strips,” said Roark.

He further cautioned that space heaters should be switched off when one is sleeping or away from the house. Newer space heaters have more safety measures built in, thus Roark recommended upgrading if one had an old space heater.

Lastly, he advised that if people were going to be using the chimneys at their homes, then they should have them inspected regularly, to make sure their up to safety standards.