87 year old Albany fire victim critical - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

87 year old Albany fire victim critical

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A South Albany man is in critical condition after fire swept through his travel trailer home.

87-year old Charley Walters moved into the tiny trailer after he lost his home in the 94 flood. He never rebuilt for fear of another flood.

Now he's hospitalized because of smoke inhalation from this morning's fire.

87 year old Charley Walters, known as CJ, has lived in the 2600 block of South Madison Street for at least

60 years.  As long as his family can remember. They say he could have built a big home, but he preferred a travel trailer, just in case of another flood.

Firefighters were called to the blaze at Charley Walters home around 5 AM, but it had burned up quickly.

Walters was not burned, but inhaled smoke that left him in critical condition.

Members of his family this morning sifted through the rubble of his home, trying to recover anything of value for him.

Niece Dianne Wingfield Clark said "This is where his home was, and this is where he wanted to live"

Walters had 16 children, and as a part time Minister was well known and liked. He lost his house in the 1994 flood, and then had a FEMA trailer on his property. When FEMA took that trailer, he bought his travel trailer instead of building another house.

Son Elijah Walters said "He didn't want to get another one. In case the water came again, he can hook up to his truck and pull out. He didn't want to get trapped in the flood again."

Family members say ever since Walter's FEMA trailer was taken, he has lived without electricity. He had a generator, but used kerosene lamps and gas bottles for heat and cooking

 Clark said "He thought people would take his land from him. He didn't want to trust that. So he went and bought him a trailer. And put it up under his shed, and said he could live there."

Firefighters say the blaze started when Walters left food on his gas cook stove. As this strong willed man is treated in intensive care, his family is concerned if he will ever be able to return to his beloved land again.

Brother Ephesian Walters said "He might want to, but I don't know. I'm sure he'll want to stay here. He didn't want to move from here."

Now the large family prays he recovers from the fire, to maybe return home again.

Walter's daughter told me this afternoon CJ is still in critical condition in the intensive care unit of an Albany hospital. But he is talking to them, so that is a good sign.

His family was able to save very little of Walter's home or belongings after the fire destroyed the travel trailer, but his dog and cats all escaped the blaze as well.

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