Gulfport fire victim identified - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

53 year old man dies in Gulfport house fire

By Doug Walker – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - It was a very hot, very fast, and deadly fire that swept through this Ben Drive home in the Orange Grove area of Gulfport early this morning.  The fire took the life of 53 year old Leroy Caldwell. 

Deputy chief Billy Bragg says there was little firefighters could do.  "When they first got here the police department was on scene first they reported fire through the roof, when we got here it was pretty much fully involved."  That was just six minutes after the call came in at 4:15 in the morning. 

Stunned neighbors watched as firefighters worked on putting out hotspots.  Moments later, the victim's body was removed from the charred remains of the house.  Beverly Barnes remembered Caldwell as a good neighbor.  "Leroy was a very nice young man." Barnes said.  "I would see him every evening come home from work and fixing up cars and talking to some of his friends out there, didn't bother anybody, just stayed to himself."

Neighbors all agreed, Caldwell was nice, and he loved to work on cars.  Ron Reid lives across the street and told WLOX News.  "He was a very nice guy, worked on cars at his house, always real nice and quiet but kind of kept to himself but always had a lot of people over there bringing cars to him." 

How and why the fatal fire began is still a mystery, according to Bragg.  "We're still under investigation of that right now." Bragg said.  "We've got the state fire marshall coming down, we've got one of our investigators on the scene trying to piece it all back together." 

One thing that cannot be pieced together again is the peaceful serenity this neighborhood enjoyed before today's tragic fire. 

Even though the exact cause of the fire is not known yet, several neighbors we talked to said the home has had several electrical problems over the past few years.  

Harrison County coroner Gary Hargrove says Caldwell died of smoke inhalation.

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