ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (Fort Wayne’s NBC) – UPDATE: The Allen County Coroner’s Office has identified the man who was found dead following a house fire on Muldoon Road on Friday.
The man has been identified as 74-year-old Daniel L. McLaughlin. The cause of death is thermal burns and smoke inhalation, and the manner of death is accident.
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It’s possible a man’s attempt to save the life of a cherished pet may have cost him his life early Friday morning in a home that caught fire south of Fort Wayne.
We do know a resident of the home did not make it out alive.
When the fire burned with greatest intensity, flames were shooting out of the roof and windows.
“The actual 911 call came from a passerby off of Ferguson Road coming home from work and he saw the flames,” said Paul VonBank, chief of the Poe Volunteer Fire Department.
The witness he referred to pulled off Ferguson Road, onto Muldoon Road, then immediately diverted onto a gravel lane leading back to the mobile home that was on fire.
A woman had gotten out safely and was standing in the driveway.
Fire Chief VonBank says there was a working smoke detector that alerted the woman and her husband who lived there to the fact there was a problem.
She made it out, he didn’t.
The man isn’t being named until an autopsy can confirm his ID. For awhile the man was unaccounted for.
Fire crews used excavation equipment around daybreak Friday to clear debris, and that’s when they found the victim in a crawl space. The intense heat from the fire caused the floor to collapse into that crawl space.
We spoke to a neighbor who in the past had helped the family take care of horses that they owned.
“We’ll just pray that they all just get their lives together again after this tragedy…. We all feel sorry about it and want to help them any way we can,” said Ed Romary, who lives on a farm nearby.
We were told the man’s body was found next to a dog that also perished in the fire. A relative we spoke with at the scene is convinced that the man was trying to rescue the dog, and didn’t make it out of the home.
Because the man’s body was badly burned, medical records will be used to try and positively identify him.
At last report, the fire department did not have a definitive answer as to what sparked the fire.