Geneva County Resident Bobby Phillips died in a structure fire over the weekend. Authorities say the 74-year-old could have been saved.
Geneva Fire officials say if there was a smoke detector in Phillips' Bellwood home, it could have been a different story.
On Saturday afternoon, flames engulfed the mobile home, which was used as a bait shop by Bobby Phillips.
The Korean War veteran had started the business more than 30-years-ago.
Geneva Volunteer Fire Chief Ben Latimer says there didn't appear to be a smoke detector inside. The 74-year-old victim was found in a bedroom.
"In the near future, I might see if there's some money to put toward smoke detectors and put in for the elderly, homebound, and mobile home residents," said Geneva County E.M.A. Director Margaret Mixon.
With fast moving fires that consume mobile homes, emergency responders say every second counts and it's unfortunately the case here.
"When you are sleeping, smoke detectors can save your life and give you time to get out," said Geneva County Sheriff Greg Ward.
Mr. Phillips came from a family of nine brothers and sisters. His two older sisters say he was always ready to help someone who needed it.
"He would check on my sister and make sure she had plenty to eat, take her to the doctor, bring her some cooked fish. He was a good person," said Lavelle Coggan, who is the victim’s sister.
An autopsy revealed that Mr. Phillips died from smoke inhalation and officials say it happened quickly.
At this time, the Phillips' family is awaiting the return of their loved one from the State Department of Forensics.
Funeral arrangements are incomplete at this point.
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