Fire kills one man: Fatality at apartment first since 1990

Published 1:48 pm Monday, March 20, 2006

By By LYDIA GRIMES – Features writer
An East Brewton man died early Friday in a fire at his apartment on Dailey Street, East Brewton fire officials said.
East Brewton police received a call at 8:01 a.m., and 10 firefighters arrived on the scene at 501 Dailey St. to find one of the middle apartments in the complex engulfed in flames. Firefighter Lawton Shipp said the fire was contained in about 10 minutes, with only the front of the apartment sustaining the bulk of the damage.
Officials determined Rankin Fuqua Jr., a resident of apartment B, died inside the apartment.
David Gaines, who lives in apartment A, said he was alerted to the fire by East Brewton Police Chief B.C. Cooper.
Karen Mercer, a neighbor, said she was up early to get ready for work at a local fast food restaurant. Mercer said she heard loud noises next door, at the apartment that burned, before the fire began.
Another neighbor, Matthew Rabe, who was sitting on the ground nearby covered in a gray blanket, told some bystanders he had been visiting his mother and had just arrived on the scene of the fire.
Members of the fire department were inside the apartment working on the fire scene throughout the morning.
In the absence of Fire Chief Joey Shell, Shipp was in charge of the fire investigation, but Shipp said he was waiting for the state fire marshal to take over the case.
By Friday afternoon, the state fire marshal had arrived on the scene to begin its investigation. Shipp said Fuqua's body was transported to Mobile where an autopsy will be conducted to determine the cause of death.
Shipp said Friday morning that foul play had not been ruled out, but the investigation was ongoing.
Michael K. Talley, deputy state fire marshal, said autopsy results would not be known for a few days.

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