Suwannee Democrat

Local News

January 28, 2013

Man dies following Branford Villas fire

Live Oak — A 65-year-old man died Sunday morning following a Saturday fire at the Branford Villas Apartments, according to Suwannee County Fire/Rescue.

Lannie Patton, 65, passed away at an area hospital at 1:50 a.m. Sunday, according to SCFR. 
The exact cause of his death will be determined by the medical examiner’s office. 

Patton, who is said to have had extensive medical problems, lived three apartments down from the origin of the fire, SCFR reported. 

Around 4:40 a.m. Saturday, SCFR received a medical call at 517 SE Craven St., the Branford Villas Apartments. When Rescue 3 arrived on scene they found apartment 20 fully involved with fire. Ambulance crews began searching for occupants and evacuation of the building was performed while waiting on the arrival of a fire unit. 

Arthur Lillie, 60, was the occupant of apartment 20 and was the reason for the medical call, according to SCFR. Upon evacuation, Lillie suffered from smoke inhalation. He was sent to an area hospital, treated and released the same day. 

SCFR Chief and Public Safety Director James Sommers said the fire spread to other apartments. 

“The structure was built in the 1980s and did not have any fire wall, which allowed the fire to run down the length of the attic to the other five apartments,” said Sommers. 

He stated that all occupants were at home at the time of the fire.

SCFR reported that they were able to go into the apartment next to apartment 20, cut through the ceiling and stop the fire from spreading any further.

Two and a half apartments were a total loss. Others received extensive smoke damage. Damage to the building is estimated at $660,000, SCFR reported. 

The cause of the fire is under investigation by the state fire marshal’s office and SCFR. 

Shannon Kleber, who occupies apartment 16, said an explosion woke her.

“It felt like a bomb went off,” she said. “The ground shook and my windows rattled.”

Kleber said she immediately got her kids and, once outside, noticed that fire was coming out of the roof.


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