Montgomery Fire Victim Identified

Charlie Thornton would have celebrated a birthday Sunday. He died in a fire Thursday night.
Charlie Thornton would have celebrated a birthday Sunday. He died in a fire Thursday night.

Montgomery, Al. (WSFA) --"He was a good uncle," said Karen Summerlin.

A good uncle, a good man, someone who loved his nieces and nephews. Charlie Thornton would have celebrated another birthday on Sunday.

"He's gone," said Summerlin.

Today Thornton's family is making plans to bury him after he became the second person to die in a house fire this year in Montgomery. Investigators say a 6-year old started the blaze after playing with a cigarette lighter. Investigators declined to identify the 6-year old and they wouldn't say if the child was related to Thornton. Calling it a 'tragic, tragic accident,' investigators say no charges will be filed. It took more than 30 firefighters to contain the blaze in the one-story home on Oak Street.

"He always did this dance. I don't know why but that's why they called him 'fast-black,' Summerlin said.

But dancing was the last thing on Charlie Thornton's mind in the last few months as he battled terminal liver cancer yet he had not given up. He often sat on the front porch and waved as friends drove by.  Family members say that's what makes his passing even more cruel.

"Who would want to leave like that?," wondered Summerlin.

Charlie Thornton did all he could to survive. In fact his niece says her uncle crawled from his bed and tried to reach the back door but fell short by 4 feet.

Throughout his life the family says Thornton worked odd jobs to make ends meet. He had 3 children, the youngest is 6. Christopher Thornton and Charlie's mother were inside when their home caught on fire. Both managed to escape out the front door.

Charlie Thornton we're told never sought the limelight, never made a lot of money but meant the world to those who knew him best. Neighbors say Oak Street lost a true friend.

"He was energetic, always had a smile on his face and helped me repair my house. He was so talented," said Shyla Summerlin.

Charlie Thornton would have turned 59 on Sunday.