ARCATA- An 86-year-old is dead after a fire broke out inside his on West End road home. According to Humboldt County Coroner Dave Parris, Jack P. Wilson, died in the fire most likely due to smoke inhalation he said.
The fire started in a car parked inside the home's garage. According to Arcata Fire Protection's Public Information Officer, Jenny Williamson, the exact cause will not be able to be determined because the car was heavily damaged from the fire.
Williamson said the surviving resident told investigators that Wilson went back into the house during the fire after originally getting out safely. She said it is unknown why he went back inside, but said he got trapped near the kitchen.
The first crews to arrive on scene saw the home completely engulfed in flames, she said. Crews attempted to save Wilson, but were backed out of the home due to heavy smoke.
It took a total of two hours to fully knock down the fire, she said, and was difficult to fight because there were no water hydrants near the home. Williamson said water tenders needed to be shuttled back and forth from the nearest hydrant, three miles down the narrow West End road.
When crews could go back inside, she said, Williamson was found dead.
"Unfortunately, this is a horrible tragedy and we never want to see anything like this happen in our communities," she said. "But it's very important that we reflect on this and try to remember fire safety everyday."
Williamson said it is important residents have a plan in case a fire breaks out in their home. She said all residents should set one location that everyone meets at after they get out of the home and while they wait for firefighters to arrive.