Elderly man perishes in mobile home fire - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Elderly man perishes in mobile home fire

January 19, 2005

Barwick-- A small community is looking back on a surrogate grandfather. Family and friends are mourning the loss of an elderly man who died in a mobile home fire around 8:15AM Wednesday.

Loved ones are having a hard time dealing with 84-year-old James Virgil's death.

"Smoke coming from the bottom. And fire coming out the top. Just blazin'. I just don't get it, you know. And I hate that it happened," said niece, Carolyn Akery.

Virgil's son managed to escape through a window. But neighbors were unable to save his father.

"Fire and smoke just roaring," said Stephanie Lamons, a neighbor and witness.

"When we got there was so much smoke coming out of the windows. It was blazing," said Lamons. Despite the intense heat and flames, Virgil's neighbors fought to find a way to get him out of the mobile home, even to the point of risking their own lives.

"The ceiling was getting ready to come down so I just told my mom to get back," Lamons said.

Virgil's family and friends say he was a kind man, almost a grandfather of sorts to the entire neighborhood. "My uncle, he was good. He was a good man," said Akery.

"Every time you see him he's smiling. 'Hey baby, how you doing?' Real sweet. Real sweet," Lamons said.

Virgil will be remembered as a cornerstone of his community. As residents put it, a selfless man who invited everyone into his home. "He'd cook. If you want to come eat, he tell everyone in his yard, "Y'all want something, you'd better come eat,'" said Lamons.

Until the cause of the fire is known, Virgil's neighbors will not have closure. But they will have a lot on their mind.

The cause of the fire is being looked into by State Investigators.

posted at 5:15PM by dave.miller@walb.com

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