A 55-year-old Hopewell man died early Thursday after suffering severe burns in a Wednesday evening fire at his home. The blaze was caused by a discarded cigarette, Hopewell’s fire chief said.
Police identified the victim as Bobby Joe Hagee.
Firefighters were called at 10:33 p.m. Wednesday to the single-family home in the 500 block of North Fourth Avenue, said Fire Chief Donald Hunter.
“On our dispatch, we were told the front porch was on fire and that there was somebody still in the house,” Hunter said. “So on our arrival, we immediately sent people inside to try and get to the gentleman, and we got him out.”
Hunter said authorities called for a helicopter to transport the man because of the severity of his burns. “But of course with the thunderstorm going on, we couldn’t fly the helicopter. So we immediately took him by ground to VCU Medical Center, where he passed away about 3:45 this morning.”
The chief said the victim’s son was able to escape the fire unharmed.
It took firefighters several hours to bring the blaze completely under control due to the heat and the home’s older style of construction. An aerial truck from the Fort Lee Fire Department was called to the scene to help extinguish the blaze from above. “We had it do a lot of attack work from up top,” Hunter said.
No firefighters were injured. Crews from Prince George and Fort Lee were rotated with Hopewell firefighters in fighting the blaze, the chief said.
The Hopewell fire marshal determined that a cigarette discarded on the front covered porch sparked the blaze, which from there spread to the house.
“There was no other reason [for the fire] other than the discarded smoking materials,” he said.