Handicapped father dies in fire

(Shelby County)  A deadly fire claims the life of a father after flames sweep through his home. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but a space heater may be to blame.

“We had reports of somebody trapped while we were on the way,” said Brent Perkins with the Shelby County Fire Department.

Rubble is what’s left after Shelby County Firefighters battled flames and smoke at a mobile home on Shoehorn Early Sunday.

“The metal walls, hold in the heat. It’s literally like going into an oven, so these fires burn hotter,” said Perkins.

Neighbors tell News Channel 3, 48-year-old Mark Welch had just had hip replacement surgery. They could hear him calling out for help from inside the home, but the handicapped father of three wasn’t able to escape.

“More than likely that had a factor in prohibiting him from getting out quickly,” said Perkins.

Brent Perkins with the Fire Department says smoke may have also kept Welch from getting out.

“When you have that much smoke in your system, it affects your mental acuity. You make decisions that are not often the best decisions to make,” said Perkins.

We’re told there were two working smoke detectors in the home. Fire Investigators pulled a space heater from the ashes. They aren`t sure if that`s what caused the deadly fire.

“Its time to look at your chimneys. Its time to make sure the smoke detectors are working.” said Perkins.

Investigators are warning everyone to be careful, especially as it gets colder.

 “I have been to too many fires. I hope I have been to my last structure fire. But complacency is going to see us back at another structure fire before this year is out,” said Perkins.