Man dies in mobile home fire in Etowah County - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Man dies in mobile home fire in Etowah County

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ETOWAH COUNTY - AL - Etowah County deputies identified the victim of Sunday's fatal fire in the Coates Bend community.

Investigators found the body of 59-year-old William "Bill" Simmons inside his mobile home on Speedy Lane.

The sight of flames flaring out of the trailer put Simmons' neighbors in shock.

"I'm not holding up too good," neighbor Cathy Bean said.

"It's sad that something like this happened.  I've never experienced like this before and it's sad.  I'm just at a loss for words."

Bean was neighbors with Simmons for the last six years.  She said he was a nice, quiet man who stayed inside most of the time.  She sometimes mowed Simmons' lawn, and talked to him occasionally when they were both in their back yards.

"I'm gonna miss seeing him outside because we'd come out here barbecuing, we'd always ask him...is our radio too loud," Bean said.   Simmons told them to go ahead and play it as loud as they needed for as long as they wanted.

The mobile caught fire Sunday morning.  Simmons and one of his friend's were inside.  The friend escaped and ran next door to the neighbors' house.

"Somebody was banging on the door," Bean said about learning of the fire.

"He was knocking on the door and was like 'Help me get him out...I can't find him', and we was like 'What?  What was going on?'," she said.

"When I looked out the back, the trailer was emblazed."

Volunteer firefighters from Coates Bend and Tidmore Bend arrived quickly and put the fire out in a few minutes.

"A good bit had already been burned, but they were able to preserve the shell of the structure which definitely aided in our investigation," Etowah County chief deputy Michael Barton said.

The Etowah County Arson Task Force and Alabama State Fire Marshal's Office inspected the scene.  The ruled out foul play and said the fire appears to be accidental.

"It's looking like it's probably going to be a result of smoking," Barton said.

The Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences will perform an autopsy to determine the cause of death.

Bean said she is going to miss her neighbor, and hopes to help his family.

"They said that he didn't have no insurance, so I'm going to up there and donate some money to them for the funeral expense," she said.

Others in the community plan to do the same.

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