Plainview man found dead in burning home - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

5/14/09

Plainview man found dead in burning home

By Ben Lawson  - bio | email

PLAINVIEW, TX (KCBD) - First responders discovered a Plainview man dead inside his burning home Thursday morning.  Now, investigators await autopsy results to determine what caused his death.  The Plainview Fire Marshal tells NewsChannel 11 the fire appears to be an accident. Still, investigators have to determine how J.W. West, 76 died before they can make a final ruling.

"I heard the fire engines and ambulances," neighbor Beatrice Luna said.  She's lived across from West for more than a year.  She called her neighbor a quiet man who kept to himself. Thursday morning, as she got ready to take her son to school, she saw her West's home engulfed in thick, dark, smoke.  "That smoke was so thick; it was all around," Luna said. 

"Just about all the house was touched on the inside," Plainview Fire Marshal Philip Mize said.  Mize tells NewsChannel 11 the fire had burned for some time, before a city employee noticed the smoke on his way to work and called for help.  "It looked like it had been going for a while. I'd say an hour or so," Mize said. 

When fire crews arrived at the home on West 11th and Kokomo, they discovered West deceased inside.  "If he didn't die from anything physical, that, by the time they go in there, it was just, there's no way he could have made it. There was so much smoke in there, you couldn't have," Luna said. 

"He was just a wonderful person," friend Judy Shuping said.  She tells NewsChannel 11 that she knew West for many years.  A well known barber in Plainview, he cut her husband's hair for ages.  Shuping says West also loved the outdoors, especially taking his dogs hunting and fishing.  "J was a great person, and he will be missed," Shuping said. 

Mize tells us he's not sure if West's home had a working smoke detector. He also tells us he's been with the Plainview office for 20-years, and this is just the fourth fatal fire he's had to investigate.

©2009 KCBD NewsChannel 11. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

5/14/09
Plainview man killed in house fire
Hale County authorities are looking into the death of J.W. West, 76, after fire fighters discovered his body inside his burning home Thursday morning. 

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