COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — One person has died after a fire Monday morning inside a south Columbus house.
According to a spokesperson with the Columbus Division of Fire, crews were sent to 1809 S. Fifth St. just before 9 a.m. after hearing reports of a structure on fire. Neighbors in the area told NBC4 they saw the front of the house in flames.
Fire crews arrived three minutes after the 911 call. They began to put out the fire and search for people trapped inside after hearing original reports multiple people could be trapped. After putting out the fire, CDF confirmed a man was the only person inside the building and was pronounced dead.
The man was later identified as 50-year-old Brian Hatfield, who family members and neighbors remember as a helper with a big heart.
“Mr. Brian, he was a good neighbor,” Aminah Ali said. “He was a good guy, he always kept our neighborhood, our side of the street clean, he was the man who cut the grass for everybody in the neighborhood, picked the trash up. He was a cool guy, he was cool, older — but he was cool.”
Hatfield lived on one side of the duplex a few houses away from the corner of Reeb Avenue and South Fitfh Street. Other family members, including his older sister, lived on the other. She said her little brother was her best friend.
“She loved him, she talked about him all the time,” said James Cunningham Jr., a friend of Hatfield’s sister.
Flames also damaged Ali’s house, including her daughter’s room. She said she’s thankful her daughter was at school. One of her other kids was home at the time.
“I looked out the window and I saw the gray smoke, heavy gray smoke. So I ran out, me and my daughter ran out, grabbed the little dogs and called 911,” Ali Said. “By the time 911 got here, the flames had busted out the side window and caught my home on fire as well.”
The cause of the fire is not yet known. Hatfield’s family members said one of the family dogs died in the fire. Between the duplex and Ali’s home, seven adults and four children are being helped by the Red Cross, Battalion Chief Jeffrey Geitter said.