A fire in a College Street residence’s garage resulted in the death of a Somerset man Friday afternoon.
William T. Meece, 79, was pronounced dead at 12:25 p.m. by Pulaski County Coroner Clyde Strunk.
The fire began at about noon at a detached garage behind the home located at 432 College Street in downtown Somerset.
Tyler Jasper, Somerset Fire Department Chief, said that the fire was “probably caused by a vapor,” such as from fuel.
He added that Meece suffered burn wounds in the incident.
Strunk noted that the cause of death was likely either smoke inhalation or burns.
He added that it’s believed there might have been an accelerant involved that exploded.
“What we’re thinking is that he was there cleaning up the place and poured some accelerant on him, and something ignited the flame,” said Strunk.
The Somerset Police Department announced Friday afternoon that they were conducting a death investigation into the matter.
“When units arrived, they learned a man was burned when items in his detached garage caught fire suddenly. Neighbors who saw the smoke ran to the man’s aid and pulled him from the fire,” according to Somerset Police.
Jasper said that the fire was “contained to a pretty small area” and didn’t involve the whole garage. Meece was the only one there at the time.
Jasper noted that it’s still not known exactly what happened.
“He did have a propane heater in there, it was the only heat source in the garage,” said Jasper. “He was a smoker too. There was the normal stuff you’d find in any garage. Fuel, paint thinner, and stuff like that. As far as what started (the fire) and how it progressed from there, (it’s still unclear as of Friday).”
The Somerset-Pulaski County EMS and the Kentucky State Fire Marshal’s Office joined the Somerset Fire Department, Somerset Fire and coroner’s office on the scene participating in the investigation.
The fire’s cause is under investigation by the Somerset Fire Department.
Meece’s body has been sent to Frankfort for an autopsy.