Charles City fire kills 84-year-old man

Posted at 6:07 PM, Dec 22, 2012
and last updated 2012-12-23 10:01:46-05

CHARLES CITY COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) -- Fire officials are investigating a fatal fire in Charles City.

The blaze broke out in the 4000 block of Old Union Road around 10:45 a.m. Saturday.

A neighbor reported that smoke was coming from the house.

"I knew something was wrong. But I didn't know the fire was that bad," one woman, who asked not to be identified, told CBS 6 News reporter Sandra Jones. "We just saw a lot of smoke coming up. I ran in and I called 911."

The woman, who said she knew the victim her entire life, remembered him as a nice man.

When firefighters arrived at the home Saturday morning, the house was fully engulfed.

Sheriff Javier Smith said that as firefighters were putting out the flames, they discovered 84-year-old Marion Hughes in his bed. He says Hughes lived alone.

However, had a caretaker who checked on him everyday. And Smith says that woman gave Hughes breakfast an hour before the fire broke out.

"She came to the home around 9 and left around 10 o'clock,” said Charles City County Sheriff Javier Smith. "He was in his den when she left the residence."

Smith and fire investigators are work long into the night trying piece together how the fire started.

"At this time, we're not sure. We believe it may be in the back part of the residence,” said Smith.

And while investigators describe the home as a total loss, it's now a painful image for this community to bear.

"It is a such a tragedy to the family who loss a loved one and our heart does go out to the family. Certainly, it's a loss to our community,” said Smith.

Sheriff Smith believes Hughes may have died from smoke inhalation, but said the Medical Examiner will determine the cause of death.

Officials could wrap up their investigation as early as Sunday.