House fire claims life of Harrison Co. man despite ‘heroic’ rescue attempts by firefighters

Fire Chief Pat Sullivan said this was “one of the most extreme rescue attempts” his department has been a part of.

House fire claims life of Harrison Co. man despite ‘heroic’ rescue attempts by firefighters

HARRISON COUNTY, Miss. (WLOX) - A Harrison County man is dead after flames overtook his home Tuesday evening.

Flames and smoke were showing when firefighters from Harrison County Fire Rescue arrived at the home on Vidalia Road at 6:30 p.m.

The house’s owner Keith Peterson died in the fire, said authorities. According to Coroner Brian Switzer, it was also Peterson’s 64th birthday.

Harrison County Deputy Fire Chief Rusty Schoultz said one of the residents who lives at the house met them outside and said Peterson was still inside.

“Dispatch was actually talking to the individual that was inside the house, describing what was going on,” said Harrison County Fire Chief Pat Sullivan. “We knew the house was burning. We had multiple reports of smoke showing. First units arrived within four minutes and made an initial attack. There was heavy involvement, heavy fire showing from windows.

Firefighters were quickly able to find Peterson and hold off the fire from the room he was in as they worked to get him out of the structure, said Schoultz.

“There was heavy fire showing everywhere except that room but the heat was intense and the fire was traveling towards that room,” said Sullivan. "Several firefighters went inside, found the victim, were having difficulty getting through, getting into that room. Several things had fallen over. Fire was actually inside the room and over their head at this point. They risked their lives in this fire trying to save this gentleman.”

Sullivan said they were quickly able to get Peterson out of the fire and out to the paramedics but it was too late.

“This was one of the most extreme rescue attempts we’ve been involved in,” said Sullivan. “There was heavy fire in the room. The firefighters were doing everything they could to keep the fire off of themselves and the victim. It was a heroic effort. Everybody was in danger.”

Multiple departments showed up to assist Harrison County Fire Rescue in putting out the flames.

“This firefighting operation was successful due to the teamwork between Pass Christian Fire Department, CRTC, and the Diamondhead Fire Department,” said Schoultz. "We couldn’t have done this fire suppression without those fire departments helping out.

The cause of the fire is still unknown at this time but is being investigated, said Sullivan.

“We’re investigating at this point, trying to determine the cause and we will be working with the coroner’s office, the state fire marshal’s office, Harrison County Fire Rescue fire marshal’s office, and Harrison County Sheriff’s Department,” said Sullivan.

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