By HEATHER TOMLINSON, CJ Staff Writer Commonwealth Journal
A Somerset man lost his life in a house fire Thursday, despite valiant efforts by firefighters who pulled him from the burning home.
Arthur Jackson, 51, of 312 Happy Circle Drive in Somerset, succumbed to his injuries Thursday afternoon soon after he was freed from the building.
Jackson was trapped in a room located off the living room of the home, which is where the fire is thought to have started at around 1 p.m. Thursday, according to David Volz, chief of Parkers Mill Volunteer Fire Department, which responded to the fire.
Volz said a Pulaski County sheriff’s deputy was the first on the scene and reported that Jackson was trapped in the home. The deputy attempted to enter the building through the basement but couldn’t get to Jackson because of the blaze.
“Once he got to the top of the basement stairs, he couldn’t go any further,” said Volz.
Pulaski County Public Safety Director Tiger Robinson, who also responded to the fire, said emergency workers had trouble visualizing the situation when they first arrived because of the rolling, thick smoke that was coming off of the blaze.
“You couldn’t see the truck for the house,” said Robinson. “It was really a dangerous situation for everyone.”
Volz said firefighters immediately worked to rescue Jackson from the burning home.
“They started rescue operations right then,” Volz said.
Firefighters entered the home through the front door, but couldn’t access the room Jackson was trapped in through a doorway. They broke through the wall and went through the rafters of the home to get to Jackson.
“It was a team effort,” said Robinson. “These guys are trained to do (things) like that ... They didn’t waste their time trying to fight the fire, and they went right through to get in (to Jackson).”
The Somerset Fire Department and Tateville Volunteer Fire Department also responded to the fire.
“They (firefighters) had a hose line there but they were focused on the rescue,” Volz said. “That was their first priority.”
Jackson was quickly taken out of the home through a window, and emergency workers gathered around Jackson to keep his vitals stable as neighbors and his family, including his wife, watched.
Volz said Jackson’s wife, who was identified by a family member as Nellie Jackson, wasn’t home when the fire started.
Robinson said Jackson appeared stable when EMS workers placed him in the ambulance to be taken to Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital, but he was pronounced dead by the Pulaski County Coroner’s office at 2:50 p.m.
Chief Deputy Coroner Anthony Gossett said Jackson most likely died from smoke inhalation.
“He (Jackson) inhaled a lot of super-heated gases,” said Robinson. “The temperature in there had to be between 600 and 700 degrees.”
Fire officials said Arthur Jackson had recently returned home from the hospital for treatment, which may have compromised his ability to get out of the home when the fire started.
As soon as Jackson was out of the home, firefighters worked to control the blaze.
“They (firefighters) knocked it down real quick but it had progressed into the attic a little bit,” said Volz.
The house is considered a total loss. Volz said the State Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating the blaze. The fire may have been caused by an electrical issue.
After Arthur Jackson was pulled from the home, an additional ambulance was called to the scene to ensure the firefighters were okay.
“Some of them got a little hot,” said Volz. “That was rather strenuous, trying to get him (Arthur Jackson) up and out of the window.”
Volz said the firefighters checked out fine. The fire departments took some time to douse the remaining hot spots in the home and they left the scene at around 4 p.m. Thursday.