Chilly night ends with man dying in fire - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Chilly night ends with man dying in fire

By Christian Jennings - bio | email

Leslie,  GA (WALB) -  An elderly man trying to stay warm in his home in Leslie Saturday night was killed in a fire. The man was heating his room with an electric space heater, and apparently woke up to a raging fire. He tried to escape out a bedroom window, but didn't make it out.         

In an attempt to stay warm, and get a good night's sleep Saturday night, 87-year-old Simmie Williams plugged in his space heater, and left it on as he dozed off. He woke up to smoke and fire.

Jimmy Williams lived with his Uncle Simmie. He wasn't home when the house went up in flames, but came rushing over when he got the call.  "When I got here the fire was still burning. First thing I did was run to his bedroom window, but an officer pulled me back."

Fire officials say Mr. Williams tried to jump out the window. He was unsuccessful. "Makes me very sad, because I hate to think he burned alive," said Williams.

A heartbreaking loss on the night before his nephew's 63rd birthday. A horrible accident that could have been avoided. "The cause of the fire was a space heater that was plugged in and located less than a foot away from the bed," said Police Chief Bob Smith.

Close enough to catch his bed blankets on fire. Leaving family and friends behind, grieving.

"He was a very loving man. He was a father to everybody, could really make you laugh..." said neighbor Jimmy Wright.

So in his honor, that's exactly what family members did Monday-- Laugh, smile, and remember the man they love.

A memorial service will be held for Mr. Williams at Piney Grove number 3 in Smithville this Saturday. A time hasn't been set.

That electric space heater was not only too close to the bed, it was plugged in to a multi-outlet surge protector.

As cold weather heads our way,  remember to keep space heaters several feet away from flammable objects, turn it off if possible when you go to sleep, and plug it directly in the wall. Do NOT use an extension cord or surge protector.

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