Man Killed in Fire
By Dan Breitwieser, TV 20 News.
It's the first house-fire fatality in Gilchrist County in four years. Another resident made it out and says she's lucky she made it out alive.
Valorie Gilhuber says she met James Easton when he walked into a California biker bar on her birthday. 33 years of memories later, she's going to be back on her own.
"You know, after 33 years you finish each other's sentences," said Gilhuber.
But after the fire, she will have to finish her own.
Charred coils mark the spot where she left, awoken by the smoke. But her companion James Easton, 65, who was fully disabled, didn't make it of their Waccasassa home.
Gilhuber had to crawl out the front door, then ran around to the back door to Easton's room, but the flames were too hot. Her son tried too, but the fire was no match for the garden hose.
When firefighters arrived, flames were already shooting through the roof and there was no way they could try a rescue. To make matter worse, they could only bring one small fire truck down the winding driveway. So they had to bring out 800 feet of hose to get to the fire, losing valuable pressure and time in the process.
"In the overall course of the fire, it caused us to be able to put 1/2 the water on in that we wanted to," said Gilchrist County District Chief Bruce Thompson.
Gilhuber believes the fire started from a candle in Easton's room--something she always thought was unsafe.
But now, there's little left.
"I don't know what's going to happen and this is day one," said Gilhuber.
Gilchrist County firefighters got the call a little after midnight. It took them about three hours to get the fire under control.
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