Neighbors React After Man Found Dead In House Fire

Sunday, April 13th 2014, 10:50 pm
By: News 9

Oklahoma City Police are investigating a house fire on the southeast side after firefighters found a man dead inside. It happened early Sunday morning near 34th St. and S. Byers Ave.

Neighbors say the victim was a man in his 60s. They just saw him outside talking to friends on Saturday and tried desperately to get him out of the fire.

"It was really shocking," said neighbor, Gabriela Silva. "It's like I came outside and saw a whole bunch of cops, and the road was blocked and I was like oh what happened?"

A typically quiet neighborhood on SE 34th St. was covered with crime scene investigators Sunday morning. Firefighters responded to house fire at 5:25 a.m.

"Smoke was just boiling out of it, just smoke," said Karan Pedersen, who called 911 as she watched her neighbor's home burning with his maroon truck parked in front. "Part of it caved in a little bit where it had the smoke and the fire engulfed inside."

Frantic that her neighbor might be trapped, Pedersen's boyfriend rushed over.

"I could smell the smoke and went over there and started beating on the door and the house and the windows, and it was hot, and it was kind of hard to breathe," said Larry Menefee.

Menefee said he kept shouting "fire, fire" but no one answered.

"I was trying to get him awake. There's usually two or three people over there, but there was only him this time and it's sad."

Pedersen says it was even sadder when they found out her neighbor died.

"He was a real nice man, kind of quiet and stayed to himself a lot, but super nice."

Which was why it was shocking for them to see homicide detectives comb the scene surrounded with yellow tape.

"That never even crossed my mind. I thought he maybe fell asleep with a cigarette or left the tea on or something. I don't know. It's scary," Pedersen said.

The owner of the home boarded the door and windows and said he wished he knew what happened.

"I want to know what caused the fire and what actually happened to the house?" Silva said.

A man stopped by the house trying to hold back tears and said he was the victim's best friend for 16 years. They traveled out of the country together. He said his friend was 69-year-old Charlie Salas who died.

Fire investigators say there was about $20,000 worth of damage done to the home. If you have any information on the fire, you're asked to call police.