CullmanTimes.com - Cullman, Alabama

January 31, 2014

UPDATE: One dead, two injured in fire; neighbor report hearing explosion

By Lauren Estes
The Cullman Times

VINEMONT — Cullman County law enforcement said one woman died and two men suffered life-threatening injuries after a camper they were in caught on fire this afternoon at Cullman Campgrounds off Alabama Highway 157.

The Cullman County Sheriff’s Office, South Vinemont and West Point volunteer firefighters, and the Alabama State Fire Marshall’s office were all at the scene of the fatal fire just outside Cullman’s city limits, authorities said.

The two men have been airlifted to UAB Trauma and Burn Center with life-threatening burns after escaping the camper. According to officials, the female victim’s body was recovered from the camper-trailer, which was a total loss.

Neighbors and witnesses reported hearing an explosion and said they saw two men flee from the residence as it became engulfed in flames.

“I pulled him from the edge of the trailer and beat the flames with the shirt I was wearing,” Mike Barker, a neighbor, said. “He was coherent and talking to me as I was trying to put the fire out, but he continued to smolder. The camper was fully engulfed and he told me his wife was still in the trailer. I wish I would have known before that because I would have went in and got her, but I couldn’t get in because of the flames.”

“We heard two pops, it kind-of sounded like aerosol cans exploding, but whatever exploded went all over them by the way their bodies were completely on fire,” another neighbor, Jerry Jordan, said. “After we put the fire on the men out, and we had to put one of them out again. When Mr. Rodgers [Cullman County Coroner Steve Rodgers] got there, he had to spray them down so they wouldn’t catch fire again.”

“The clothing that they were wearing was completely burnt off. They were basically naked and we covered them up with clothes and blankets,” Don Hunter, a nearby resident, said. “It was a scary thing. We just acted on the situation and tried to do the best we could. I was told their bodies were 80-85 percent burned.”

“I asked Randall [Identified as the homeowner] if he knew Jesus and he told me he did,” Donna Jordan said. “I told him to call out to him for help and he said he would. They were conscious and talking to us the whole time. Their burns were really bad, but they knew what was going on.”

Authorities have not yet identified the three people, and the scene is under investigation. One of the men lived at the residence. The woman was his sister and the other man was his brother-in-law visiting from Lawrence County.

Check back for updates as they become available.



* Lauren Estes can be reached at laurene@cullmantimes.com or 256-734-2131,ext. 137.