A house fire just south of Springfield killed a man who was disabled. He was Larry Burt, 63.
Fire crews were called to the 900 block of Evans Street, near Cherokee Middle School ,just before 11:00 Friday night. Officials say the house was engulfed when crews arrived. Witnesses say they saw flames coming from the back side of the house initially.
"Once we started hearing sirens and seeing lights we all came out and told them that there was probably someone inside the house," said neighbor Brent Early.
Those who live nearby say they were particularly worried for the victim because he had limited mobility.
"I know he had an injury a few years back so there was people that were over there taking care of him every once in a while," said Early.
Authorities say by the time they arrived significant damage had already been done to the house. A large portion of the roof was already destroyed and officials say the cause of it all was smoking related.
"I guess he fell asleep while he was smoking a cigarette or dropped a cigarette and from what I heard he was trying to get out," said Early.
In addition to claiming the life of the man inside this home the fire also caused major structural damage to the house, destroying many interior walls and ceilings. Fire officials say there were no smoke detectors found inside the home.
"No one ever wants their house to catch on fire but it just shows you that anything can happen and it's always good to be prepared," said Early.
Although the house has a Springfield address it’s outside the city limits so the Battlefield Fire Protection District was the agency that responded first. Representatives with that agency say this does not happen often in their coverage area. The last fire related death they’ve had to cover was in 2006.
Firefighters from Logan-Rogersville, Nixa and Springfield helped fight the fire and prevent it from spreading. Republic firefighters covered the Battlefield stations while fire crews were out fighting the fire, Newberry said.