House fire kills Atmore man

Published 5:22 pm Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Friday night fire on Maxwell Street resulted in the death of 41-year-old Bernard McCaster.

Atmore and Poarch fire departments were once again fighting to avert disaster Friday night, as yet another house fire claimed a life in Atmore, pushing the death toll to four in only the last two weeks.

AFD and PFD units responded to the scene on Maxwell Street around 7:45 p.m. where 41-year-old Dwight Bernard McCaster had been pulled from his fully engulfed mobile home by neighbors. McCaster was transported by Atmore Ambulance to Atmore Community Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Atmore Fire Chief Gerry McGhee said McCaster succumbed to his injuries despite the best efforts of neighbors and police and fire responders. McGhee said when AFD arrived on the scene Friday night, neighbors and Atmore police officers had pulled McCaster from a back room of the trailer after tearing through an outside wall of the mobile home and CPR had been performed.

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“The fire was in the front of the trailer,” McGhee said. “Some of his kinfolks said his bedroom was in the back of the trailer and when they tore through the wall that is where he was located.”

An investigation to determine the cause of Friday’s fire is underway by the state fire marshal’s office.

Although an official cause for the fire has not been determined, McGhee said, as temperatures drop, this time of year is capable of producing a rise in home fires as some people resort to improvised means for heating their homes.

In the wake of a fire that resulted in the death of three small children last week when a stove was left on in the home, McGhee said unconventional methods should never be used for heating. There are plenty of simple steps people can take to reduce their risk of a home fire, McGhee said.

“I’d advise people not to try to use their stove for heating. Be sure you have a fire extinguisher and smoke alarms in the home, and make sure the batteries are working,” he said.

McGhee said people using fireplaces and other types of heaters should ensure those items have been properly maintained before using them.

“If you have heaters, make sure to clean them out before you light them,” he said. “If you’ve got a fireplace, there are people that you can call to come clean them out. Have them cleaned before you try to light them.”

The most important tip to remember when dealing with a home fire, McGhee said, is never to take any unnecessary risks.

“If you ever get out of a house on fire, please don’t try to go back in to get any personal items,” he said. “Personal items can be replaced. Lives cannot.”