Disabled man dies in house fire

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

A disabled Holladay Street man died Thursday when his home caught fire during the pre-dawn hours as he was sleeping.

Suffolk Emergency Management Coordinator Captain James T. Judkins said the fire at 236 Holladay St. broke out at 4:18 a.m., causing $20,000 in damages to the $40,000 two-story wood-frame home.

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On their arrival, the engine companies reported smoke and flames from the front, left side of the house with flames spreading to the upstairs. Heat from the fire was so intense that vinyl siding on the house next door was melted.

&uot;The call for help came from residents at 238 Holladay St., his neighbors,&uot; said Judkins. &uot;They were awakened by a loud pop and then called 911. Theirs was the house that suffered the heat damage.&uot;

The victim, Richard T. Joyner, lived alone in his home. According to neighbors, he refused to leave the home for a nursing facility. His body was discovered in bed as firefighters conducted their primary search of the residence.

According to family and friends, Joyner had been confined to his bed for some time, and he required assistance out of bed and into his wheel chair.

Fire investigators believe the fire started in the front left corner of the bedroom; however the exact cause is undetermined at this time.

On Holladay Street Wednesday afternoon, neighbors were gathered in the streets, looking across at the burned home where Joyner lost his life. One man in particular, Garry Outlaw, felt a deep sense of loss since he and Joyner had been friends for more than 20 years.

&uot;I helped him all I could since he had no one else who could give of their time for his needs,&uot; said Outlaw. &uot;I prepared two meals a day for him and bathed and dressed him, fed him and helped him into the wheelchair in the morning and back into bed at night. He’d had five strokes, one just last year, and he couldn’t help himself at all.&uot;

Outlaw said he &uot;had a feeling on Tuesday evening&uot; that something was going to happen to his friend.

&uot;He wasn’t too pleasant with people… complained a lot and kinda’ whined,&uot; said Outlaw. &uot;He didn’t like the way people treated him, and he complained. I tried to tell him not to be bitter and angry, but to be forgiving instead. I knew something was going to happen to him because when I left him Tuesday evening, he said he loved me as I was going out the door.&uot;

Outlaw added that when he went to bed Tuesday night, crying because he felt so strongly that something was about to happen to his friend. He said that after he went to sleep, he didn’t know anything had happened until he heard the cracking of the windows in Joyner’s home.

According to Outlaw, there were no kerosene heaters in the home, but instead a space heater that was in an area away from where the fire started.