Elderly man dies in Providence Road fire

by Sherry Hamilton - Posted on May 04, 2011 - 04:37 PM

A Tuesday morning fire on Providence Road resulted in the death of an elderly man, the destruction of a home, and the displacement of a family.

According to Abingdon Volunteer Fire and Rescue Chief Herb Austin, the home at 3139 Providence Road was destroyed when an electric receptacle in the master bedroom malfunctioned.

Wendy Ezzell, who lived in the home, awoke to the smell of smoke in the master bedroom and managed to awaken her fiance, Fred Graef, and their three children—all of whom were in the bedroom end of the home—before the fire began to spread, according to Austin. However, they were unable to evacuate an elderly man, identified by Lt. Scott Little of the Gloucester Sheriff’s Office as William Ezzell, 80, who was in the other end of the home.

Robert Parlett, public information officer with AVFR, said that the call came in at 3:49 a.m., and firefighters were on the scene within five minutes. Flames were visible in the house, said Parlett, and live wires lay across the ground at the end of the structure where the fire began. The firefighters were told someone was inside, and they tried to enter the front door, but it was too hot.

"There was a solid wall of fire," said Parlett.

Ezzell directed firefighters to the window of the room where the elderly man lay, and they broke a window and pulled him out. The room wasn’t burning, said Parlett, but there were super-heated gases throughout the house, and the gentleman "didn’t make it."