WOODLAWN — A kitchen grease fire claimed the life of a Woodlawn man Saturday morning at 1082 Log Road.
“The kitchen caught on fire; the gentleman was trapped in the bedroom,” Harrison County Assistant Fire Marshal Duana “DJ” Couch told the News Messenger while on the scene.
Emergency officials were alerted of the fire around 10:14 a.m. Both Nesbitt and Woodlawn Volunteer Fire Departments responded to the scene. Pct. 4 Justice of the Peace Nancy George pronounced the victim, 44-year-old Robert Carr, deceased.
“Upon arrival, I talked to the witnesses that stated he was in the kitchen and had a grease fire,” said Couch. “They tried to put it out. He thought it was put out and he went back to go to the room to go to sleep.”
The three-bedroom trailer home was fully engulfed when firefighters arrived at the site. Carr was the only resident living there, neighbors said.
Carr’s friend, neighbor and co-worker, Corinso Franklin, sat on his back steps with tears Saturday as he watched firefighters extinguish the smolder to the total loss.
“He was my friend,” Franklin said, sharing how they both worked the evening shift at Harris Pottery together.
He said Carr was set to work his 12-hour shift that day.
“He was a nice person and liked to have fun,” said Franklin.
“He loved fishing,” added another friend, Jackie McBride.
Franklin said Carr was cooking pork chops in the kitchen when the fire initially started. Franklin assisted him in putting out the flame.
“The pork chops had burnt up,” said Franklin. “He threw the pot in the yard.
“We wet the whole kitchen down,” said Franklin, noting they also doused the walls.
Franklin said they tried to get Carr to sit outside until the smoke cleared, but he insisted on staying in the house.
“The house was smoked up. We thought it was just smoke. I said, ‘Man, you alright?’” Franklin recalled. “He said, ‘Man, I’m good. I’m good.’”
“I don’t know if he tried to cook anything else after he got back in the (house),” said Franklin. “As you can see, he lay in his bed and never got up.”
Franklin said he didn’t know the fire had rekindled until his girlfriend woke him up in a panic. His girlfriend subsequently called 9-1-1 as he rushed to the trailer, attempting to save his friend.
“It started in the kitchen. When we busted the windows out the bedroom, that’s when the flames started coming out the bedroom,” said Franklin.
McBride said he could see the smoke while en route from Driskell Bridge Road.
“He was stuck in the bedroom,” said Franklin. “We were trying to tear through the wall and get him out.
“I tried to break through the window, but the fire was too strong. I couldn’t get in there,” he said with pain in his eyes.
“You tried,” McBride said, consoling his friend.