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Brookhaven man killed in house fire

Photo by Aaron Paden/ Brookhaven Fire Department responded to a house fire early Monday morning that left one man dead. The state Fire Marshal's Office is investigating the fire.

Photo by Aaron Paden/
Brookhaven Fire Department responded to a house fire early Monday morning that left one man dead. The state Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating the fire.

One person was killed in a house fire on Washington Avenue Monday morning, according to Brookhaven Fire Chief Tony Weeks.

The Brookhaven Fire Department responded to a call of a structure fire at 6:02 a.m., said BFD Captain Eric Smith. Smith said upon arrival, neighbors indicated there could possibly be a person inside the residence. Smith confirmed there was one fatality.

Deputy Coroner Robert Tyler identified the victim as Jerry Sanders, 44, who was pronounced dead at his residence at 807 Washington Ave. at approximately 7:15 a.m.

Bruce Benson, a neighbor of Sanders who was at the scene, said neighbors tried to help the man they believed to be inside but were unsuccessful.

“This morning about 5 a.m. my neighbor down the street knocked on the door hollering that the ‘House is on fire, house is on fire.’ We came to try and get him out, but it was engulfed. Couldn’t nobody get in,” Benson said. “By the time the fire department came and put it out, he was in the house, he was gone.”

“We haven’t finished the investigation,” Smith said. “We really don’t know why there was a fire yet. The body has been sent off to the state medical examiner for autopsy.”

Tyler said the cause of death is unknown at this time, and confirmed the body has been sent to the MS Crime Lab. The state Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating the blaze. The cause of the fire is unknown at this time.

A visibly distraught neighbor who was later identified as Willie Nelson  said he heard his friend and tried to enter the residence but was unable to help.

“I can’t say at what time it started. This lady, she came up to my house screaming. I just ran out the house. I threw on some pants and I ran out the house,” Nelson said. “I saw fire coming out [of the window]. I’m thinking he’s in there sleeping, so I tried to go in there and get him. When they got the fire down, I told them where his bed was located in there and they came back out and they say he’s not in there.”

Nelson said Sanders was later found near a propane tank.

“On the corner, he had a propane tank with two burners on it, so I don’t know if the propane tank blew up on him, had him incapacitated to come out, I don’t know,” Nelson said. “All I know, it happened right here, and in the corner of the house is where they found him. Something went wrong in that house for him not to be able to come out. That’s my friend of 35 years. That’s my brother.”

Nelson said he and Sanders spent time visiting just the night before the blaze.

“I don’t know what went wrong in there. We sat out here last night enjoying each other and I wake up to banging and screaming,” Nelson said. “I tried to get him. I tried my damnedest to get him. I couldn’t get him. I couldn’t get him.”