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Cause still unknown for fire that killed disabled man

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A house fire that killed a disabled man in northern Kanawha County Monday also caused such severe damage that investigators are having trouble determining its cause.

Investigators from the state Fire Marshal's Office were at the charred remains of the single-story Jakes Run Road home Tuesday. They combed through evidence looking for clues. Jason Baltic, an investigator with the office, said the cause was still undetermined Tuesday afternoon.

"The fire damage was too severe to determine the cause so far," Baltic said.

Half of the home was engulfed and a portion had collapsed when firefighters from Frame, Pinch and Clendenin arrived Monday afternoon, said C.W. Sigman, Kanawha fire coordinator.

Sigman confirmed media reports identifying the homeowner as Richard Garland, 60.

Baltic said Garland's body was found inside the home at the front door. His body was taken to the state Medical Examiner's Office for autopsy.

The investigator said the fire didn't appear suspicious.

"It was a pretty bad fire," Baltic said. "The fire started in the front in an addition room built onto the house and extended back into the house from there."

Neighbors told fire officials Monday they heard what they thought was a pop or explosion outside. They said they looked out the window and saw Garland's home ablaze and immediately called for help.

Sigman said the neighbors sometimes helped Garland, who had a disability that limited his mobility. He lived alone in the house.

It wasn't clear if there was a working smoke detector in the home. Sigman said his office was flooded Tuesday with calls from residents seeking information on smoke detectors.

Baltic said the investigation remains active.

Contact writer Ashley B. Craig at or 304-348-4850.


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