House fire kills Valdosta man & his dog - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

House fire kills Valdosta man & his dog

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VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) -

Valdosta firefighters are urging you to make sure you have working smoke detectors in your home following a deadly fire early this morning.

A man and his dog were killed. Officials believe the fire was accidental.

This is what's left of 42-year-old James Trotter's home. Around 3 a.m. this morning, Valdosta firefighters responded to the blaze that had already fully engulfed the home. Trotter and his dog weren't able to get out.

"When we tried to make entry to the rear door it was secured and we later found out it had been nailed shut. So that's why we couldn't make entry to the back door," said Valdosta Fire Chief, J.D. Rice.

Once firemen broke through a window they found Trotter near the back door.

"The occupant probably got disoriented and thought he was headed toward the front door but was actually headed toward the back of the home," said Rice.

Fire investigators say his dog, Roscoe, was found right at the front door. They believe he was trying to alert his owner to escape.

"He loved his dog; he went everywhere he went. We'd see him on the porch with it, holding it," said neighbor, Luke Baldwin.  

Neighbors say Trotter was a quiet man but was always friendly. Fire officials say there was no electricity to the home and no smoke detectors. They believe a candle may have ignited fire.

"I encourage everyone to buy a smoke detector. If you can't afford a smoke detector, call the fire department, call your local fire department. Most departments will install it free, most departments will give you it for free," said Rice.

Chief Rice says this is the first fire death in Valdosta in three years.

Fire officials say this is the 44th fire related death in Georgia already this year. That is an unusually high number for the first three and a half months of the year.

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