A Clinton man and his dog perished in a house fire Tuesday night on Isaac Weeks Road, the family’s attempt to save the man unsuccessful as the blaze quickly spread from a bedroom to the rest of the house.
Multiple fire departments, including primary unit Clinton Fire Department, were dispatched to 1429 Isaac Weeks Road at 11:23 p.m. Tuesday. According to City of Clinton manager Tom Hart Jr., firefighters found the home fully involved. They were reportedly on the scene for hours extinguishing the flames and tending to hot spots.
The body of Paul Butler Sr., 73, was subsequently recovered from the fire. It was not known whether Butler died of smoke inhalation or due to the fire. The Sampson County Fire Marshal’s Office said a space heater was the culprit.
The Isaac Weeks property was still smoldering late Wednesday as Willie Woods Jr. and fiance Yashica Butler, daughter of Paul Sr., surveyed the damage at the home, located just a few hundred feet from H.B. Lewis Road.
Woods said he and his fiance were at the home with their three children and Paul Sr. at the time. Woods and Yashica Butler were inside an addition to the home, situated over the carport, when they heard daughter Brianna yell from a downstairs room in the original home, near the front door. Paul Sr. was in the adjacent living room.
A space heater in Brianna’s room had sparked, possibly due to a malfunction or something coming into contact with it. Woods said Brianna saw a spark and the flames started immediately. Paul Sr. tried to douse it with water, but it spread too quick and was too large to be contained at that point, Woods said.
“She went to go get him and it started spreading,” Woods said of Yashica.
Everyone ran toward the door and attempted to get Paul Sr. out. He was on his feet, Woods said, and was between a hallway and a bathroom near the door.
“I tried to get him out,” said Woods. “I kept telling him ‘let’s get out, let’s get out,’ and I had his hand, but he didn’t move. I had visual contact on him and basically we were out the door, but then I didn’t have his hand. I no longer had Mr. Paul Sr.”
Woods didn’t have many answers on Wednesday and just shook his head as he looked over the devastation. He said Paul Sr.’s dog, named Mister, would not leave the man’s side and, while nothing was found of the dog, he was believed to be gone too.
“That’s man’s best friend,” Woods remarked solemnly.
Woods said Paul Sr.’s wife Joann passed away in September 2016. Paul Sr. just celebrated his 73rd birthday last week, on Jan. 24.
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