Body found in burning home in NW Harris Co.

December 20, 2010 9:39:16 AM PST
A man is killed and a family's home destroyed by a fire that presented multiple obstacles for firefighters trying to put it out. Firefighters say a lack of water and the intensity of the flames made it difficult to tackle the fire inside that house on Tiltrum near Chippewa. Once the fire was put out, firefighters found the body of 40-year-old Ray Lee Bliss. Bliss' relatives learned of his death Monday morning. That includes his brother, who was also his caretaker.

Firefighters were called to the home just after 1am when neighbors saw flames, and by the time they arrived, the house was engulfed in flames.

Investigators believe the fire was possibly electrical and it may have been sparked by a space heater or an extension cord used to run that heater. Since there are no hydrants in this neighborhood, it took about ten minutes to get water on the fire.

Bliss likely died from smoke inhalation, according to investigators. He was found in the bathroom, where relatives say he may have had a seizure. His brother and cousin both say he suffered from life-long seizures, and had also sustained a brain injury from a fall a few years ago. Both are factors which they say interfered with his ability to live independently.

"Always, called him, took care of him, everything," said Bliss' cousin, Joann Thomas, who came out to the scene Monday morning. "He was sweet. I mean he had had seizures, stuff like that. He was a sweet guy."

Bliss had lived alone since his mother died last year and his family had been worried about his safety because he was not used to living alone.

The fire chief says this is a good opportunity to remind everyone this is the season when we have all of those fires that are caused by space heaters that are placed too close to objects that could spark a fire.


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