Valdosta Daily Times

April 16, 2013

Valdosta man dies in fire

Stuart Taylor
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA —  Early Monday morning, a house in the 600 block of West Street caught fire, claiming the life of a man and his dog.

At 3 a.m., the Valdosta Fire Department responded to a 911 call, arriving to find the house fully involved with flames shooting 30-35 feet into the air. Finding that there was possibly someone inside, firemen breached and worked their way through the house.

Inside, they found James Trotter, 42, who along with his dog, appeared to have succumbed to the smoke, according to the Valdosta Fire Department.

“The house had no electrical current,” said Fire Chief J.D. Rice. “He was possibly using alternate lighting and heating sources, including containers he was using to hold candles. We believe the fire was accidental. The candles may or may not have been involved.”

After the fire started in the front of the house, it appears that Trotter became disoriented. Firefighters found him at the rear of the house, close to the back door that was nailed shut, possibly for security reasons.

“It’s very common in a smoke-filled environment, with carbon monoxide, to become disorientated,” said Rice. “He may have thought he was heading towards the front door. ... It’s not uncommon for people trying to secure their homes to do whatever they think is needed. It’s not recommended. It can keep people out, but it can also keep people in.”

“It’s a sad event,” said Lowndes County Coroner Bill Watson. “We don’t normally have fatalities due to fire.”

Trotter’s death marks the first fire-based fatality to occur in Valdosta since October 2011, and the 44th fire-based fatality to occur in Georgia so far this year.