Birmingham fire crews say a man was killed on Thursday morning after being caught in large house fire.
The fire broke out at a duplex located at 903 18th Street Southwest around 5:15 a.m. A father and daughter were reportedly living in one half of the duplex and the other half was unoccupied. The daughter was able to escape the blaze, but her father died in the fire.
The daughter, Tracey Burke, identified her dad as James Thomas Riley, age 89. She said she lives down the street from her father but visited him on Wednesday night and fell asleep. When she awoke, the house was already in flames.
Wanda Green, a neighbor who lives across the street from the duplex, says she ran to help when she saw the flames.
"Me and my husband run out, my husband tried to get through the front door to get in and get him and I went to the back me and the daughter tried to open the back door. She was nervous so she couldn't get it, so I busted the back window out, put my hand through there to open the lock but the heat and smoke was so strong," Wanda said.
Green says the daughter was able to escape. Her husband Tony Green tried to save the father, but had to retreat due to intense heat and smoke.
"It was just no way it was engulfed in a matter of minutes. I tried to save him but we couldn't get in," Wanda said.
After the sun came up, firefighters worked to put out hot spots. They covered part of the home with a blue tarp as the Jefferson County Coroner removed the man's body. Those who knew him say he will be missed.
"He was a great guy. He stayed on the porch all the time and didn't bother nobody. He was a great guy, really was really nice guy," Tony Green said.
Burke said her family is originally from Chicago, but her dad had moved to Birmingham in the past couple of years from Florida.
The fire department says this is the fourth fatal fire in the city of Birmingham this year. It's the seventh for Jefferson County.
Firefighters are still investigating how the fire started, but they do not believe it's suspicious.
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