ARLEY - A father and son were found dead among the ashes and rubble of their home that was destroyed by fire in the early morning hours of Friday, March 3.
The two men, who have not been officially identified pending investigation by the Alabama Department of Forensic Science, were found in what fire department members believed to be the bedroom area on the far left or west side of the manufactured home, located at 134 County Road 3972, first responders said.
Winston County Coroner Tracey Holley pronounced the two fire victims dead Friday morning, helping to remove them from the home with assistance from fire officials.
Their bodies were transported from the scene in the Winston County Coroner’s vehicle to the coroner’s office in Haleyville and from there were transferred to forensics in Huntsville, for further investigation, Holley said.
Neighbor Rocky Meherg, who lives across from the residence, was awakened in the early morning hours Friday, he recalled.
“He came banging on my house, the friend that lives over there with them,” Meherg said.
“At first I said, ‘Who is it?’” He said, ‘The trailer is on fire. Call 9-1-1,’” Meherg noted. “I came out on the porch, and called 9-1-1.”
seeing the manufactured home in flames when he stepped outside to call.
“I asked him where the other two guys were at. He said he didn’t know; they were probably still in there,” Meherg pointed out. “It’s bad.”
The Arley Fire Department was called to the scene at 3:09 a.m., noted Chief James Rickett. Arley rolled with two engines and two tankers, assisted by Helicon Fire Department providing an engine and a tanker, Rickett said.
“It was fully involved when I pulled up,” Rickett pointed out. “I was the first one here. The walls were already gone.”
The roof, he added, was barely held up by supports.
Firefighters relied on water from their trucks, applying 4,000 gallons to beat down the blaze within about two hours, then check for hot spots before entry could be made to search for the men, fire officials said.
“We found the bodies real quick, so we protected that end (of the house) so they could do their investigations,” Rickett said.
Firefighters noted that the father and son, as they were confirmed to be by neighbors on the scene, were found in one room, with the male survivor having a bedroom next to it.
Firefighters confirmed that two dogs also died in the blaze.
Investigators on the scene included the Winston County Sheriff’s Office and Alabama State Fire Marshal’s office, which is investigating to determine what possibly caused the blaze.
The Winston County Sheriff’s Office was called around 4:23 a.m.
“As the fire was getting put out, we learned there were two bodies inside,” noted Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Jacob Eward.
Winston County Sheriff Caleb Snoddy, who was also on the scene, noted it was their policy that deputies respond to structure fires.
When sheriff’s officials arrived on the scene, the fire had been extinguished, and the fire marshal’s office was present, Eward said.
“We’re not sure exactly where the fire started,” Eward said.
“It’s always terrible when people lose their lives,” Snoddy stated.
Meek Baptist Church opened its clothing closet to the displaced survivor, Rickett said.
Someone on the scene also went to a local store and got some shoes for the displaced resident.
“Everything he had supposedly burned up in this trailer,” said Rickett.
Arley firefighters also contacted the American Red Cross to provide assistance, Rickett added.
Meherg recalled he had seen the occupants of the home out at different times when he would go to his mailbox, and they would speak or wave to each other.
“I prayed for them this morning,” said Meherg as investigators were combing through the debris of the burned home.
“It’s hard to lose somebody like that,” Rickett said. “That has to be a bad way to go.”
See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.