Man, 92, dies when house burns

Imari Scarbrough | Civitas Media A 92-year-old man died when fire tore through his Airport Road home on Wednesday night.

WADESBORO — A 92-year-old man has died following a Wednesday night fire at his home.

The house, located at 620 Airport Road, was destroyed in the fire, which began around 10 p.m.

James Thomas Meadows died in the fire. He lived with his nephew, Douglas Leroy Chambers, 58, who was able to escape, Detective Lt. Randy Henry of the Anson County Sheriff’s Office said Friday. According to Henry, Chambers tried to rescue his elderly uncle.

“Mr. Chambers indicated that he didn’t know how the fire had started,” Henry said. “He said he smelled some smoke and there was already fire in the roof of the house. He attempted to spray water on it with a standard garden hose, and that wasn’t doing anything, so he went to go back in the house. But he said by the time he started to go back in, there was already a lot of heat, flames and smoke, and he couldn’t get back in the door. He was calling out for his uncle, but he didn’t get a response back from him, and he wasn’t able to go back in the residence to look for him.”

A passerby noticed the heavy smoke before seeing the fire, then called 911.

Chambers was uninjured. Family members from the Monroe area picked him up, Henry said.

Although the fire is still under investigation, Henry said it is not thought to be suspicious.

“Due to the extent of the damage to the residence, an exact determination is not able to be made, because there was so much damage by the fire you couldn’t pinpoint a point of origin,” he said. “Therefore, we couldn’t tell what exactly started the fire. According to Mr. Meadows’ other nephew who came from Monroe to pick up Douglas, he said the house was built around 1976. When the first fireman arrived on scene, they said the house was fully engulfed in flames and the roof had already collapsed on the house, so it burned quickly, and that may be due to the building materials that were in the house.”

Henry said the department will have more information when the medical examiner completes the autopsy.

“We’re waiting for toxicology to come back to see what the results were as far as the gases that were in his blood,” he said.

Meadows retired from his position as the maintenance supervisor at Carolinas Medical Center-Union around 25 years ago, according to a family member Henry spoke with.

The Anson County fire marshal, Anson County Sheriff’s Office and the Wadesboro Fire Department responded, and Wadesboro police helped with traffic as Airport Road was closed for several hours, Henry said.

The N.C. State Bureau of Investigation is helping local authorities determine the fire’s cause.

“The Anson County fire marshal requested the SBI to assist with examination of the fire scene due to the degree of fire damage and the fact that someone was deceased inside the residence,” SBI Special Agent Tony Underwood said in an email. “At this point, the fire has been ruled as undetermined.”

Reach reporter Imari Scarbrough of The Anson Record at 704-694-2161, ext. 2302, and follow her on Twitter @ImariLattimore.