Man dies in DeKalb house fire after days without power, daughter says

Man dies in DeKalb house fire after days without power, daughter says

View CaptionHide Caption
Authorities are investigating a house fire that left a man dead, DeKalb County fire Capt. Eric Jackson said. JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM
  • Story Highlights
  • ‘He was trying to, I guess, create some light and heat,’ his daughter said.
  • His daughter said she didn’t bring her father to her house because she didn’t have power.
  • Nearly 550,000 people in Georgia are still without power as a result of Irma.

A 74-year-old man killed early Wednesday in a DeKalb County house fire spent days without power, his daughter said.

“As far as we can tell,” Franca Tweedy said, “he was trying to, I guess, create some light and heat because he had been without power for three days.”

The man was identified as Wendell Bailey by Channel 2 Action News.

Wendell Bailey (Credit: Channel 2 Action News)

About 6:40 a.m., neighbor Shirley Durden saw something flickering at the unidentified man’s home in the 2500 block of Appomattox Drive and called 911. When she and her daughter realized it was a fire, they ran across the street and banged on the door to try to get the man out.

“I just wished I could’ve gotten up sooner or noticed it sooner,” Durden said.

Shirley Durden saw something flickering and called 911. Video by John Spink/AJC

Fire crews were on the scene within six minutes of the 911 call, DeKalb fire Capt. Eric Jackson said.

“When we arrived,” he said, “we had heavy flames coming from the garage area of this home.”

The man was trapped on the second floor of the home. Firefighters tried to rescue him and discovered he was “beyond resuscitative measures,” Jackson said.

DeKalb County Fire Rescue Captain Eric Jackson said the power was out at the time of a deadly house fire. Video by John Spink/AJC

It is unclear what caused the fire or if there were working smoke alarms in the victim’s home.

Tweedy said she suspects her father left candles burning downstairs and went to bed without blowing them out.

Jackson would not confirm that account.

“We need to do a thorough (investigation), especially in light of the fact that there was a fatality,” he said.

Jackson did confirm that power was out, presumably from Irma, a devastating system that killed two people in metro Atlanta when they were crushed by falling trees.

About 480,000 people in Georgia were still without power Wednesday morning, down from a peak of 1.5 million during the height of the storm.

Georgia Power, the company serving the victim’s home, is continuing “work around the clock on disaster recovery efforts to ensure that power is safely restored,” spokesman Jacob Hawkins said in a statement to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 

“Our thoughts and prayers are with this family.”

Tweedy said she didn’t bring her father to her house because she didn’t have power. She said he recently had a stroke.

“He was recovering,” Tweedy said. “He was doing pretty well. He was living here by himself. We thought he was able to take care of himself.”

He even insisted on accompanying his daughter to South Carolina so she wouldn’t have to travel alone. She was scheduled to be there for job training.

“Even though I’m a grown woman,” Tweedy said, “he was always still trying to take care of me.

“He was a great father.”

Neighbors gathered outside a home where a 74-year-old man was killed in a fire early Wednesday in DeKalb County. JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM

Know what’s really going on with crime and public safety in your metro Atlanta community, including breaking news, trial coverage, trends and the latest on unsolved cases. Sign up for the AJC’s crime and safety newsletter delivered weekly to your inbox.

Weather and Traffic