Man dead, woman seriously burned in Valdosta fire - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Man dead, woman seriously burned in Valdosta fire

Katerina Cooper Katerina Cooper
James Clinkscales James Clinkscales
VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - At first glance, it may not have looked like there was much of a fire at all at 409 Cypress Street early Tuesday morning. But, a neighbor told WALB that the home was fully engulfed when she woke up  to see what was going on.

Black stains around the windows of the home at 409 Cypress Street, and yellow fire tape around the front of the home, marked the scene where 72 year old James Brown was killed and 54 year old Debra Price was severely burned when a fire consumed the home around 1 a.m.

"I peeped out the window to see what was happenin' and I seen the fire trucks. I said, 'baby, Mr. Brown's house is on fire,'" recalled Katerina Cooper, who lives directly across the street from the home.

Cooper said she had lived across the street from Brown for about three years and knew him well. She said he never bothered anybody and was always willing to talk.

"He just sat on his porch, and he'll speak if you speak to him. That's the type of person he was," Cooper said.

She didn't know Debra Price, the woman living with Brown. Price was air lifted from the scene to University of Florida-Shands Hospital in Gainesville, Florida to be treated for life threatening burns she received from the fire.

A friend of Brown's came by the house Tuesday morning to bring Brown money for a bicycle seat that he recently got from Brown. "I fittin' to pay him back today. I came back by the house today. He a real nice dude," said Brown's friend. "Did it make you sad when you found out that he had died? 'Yeah, 'cuz I knew him real good.'"

Valdosta Fire Marshall, Cpt. James Clinkscales, said that as of Tuesday afternoon the fire was not considered suspicious but the exact cause of the fire had not been determined. 

"Well, it's still under further investigation. We're trying to find the initial cause," said Cpt. Clinkscales. "Most of the fire was in the kitchen and living room area." Clinkscales estimated that 75% of the home was destroyed by the fire.

WALB contacted University of Florida-Shands Hospital Tuesday afternoon for an update on Price's condition, but as of 3 p.m. had not heard back from the hospital. Cpt. Clinkscales said Price burns were primarily contained to her face and chest area. 

Browns body was expected to be sent to a GBI medical examiner to determine an official cause of death.

The Valdosta Fire Department and the Valdosta Police Department were working together Tuesday to investigate the fire.

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