House fire claims life of one person

GALVESTON COUNTY, TX It took only minutes for volunteer firefighters to arrive at Sam's home on North Tinkle Lane near Highway 87 in Crystal Beach, but they wouldn't have a chance to save him. News of his death inside his home quickly spread throughout the tight-knit community.

Longtime friend Anne Willis remembered, "Sam was just one of the nicest people I've ever met in my life. Anyone that needed help, he was right there. He was always very caring, concerned about the community. Everybody here is going to really miss him."

Willis knew Sam for 25 years. The two of them worked closely during the annual crab festival. He was often called upon to use his plumbing skills to help out just about everyone in the community.

"He was a super guy," said Debbie Potter, a friend of Sam's. "He helped everybody. He was a plumber involved in the community. Everybody loved him. He was special."

Investigators say they believe the fire was caused by an electrical short in a light socket. Sam was the only victim.

Major Ray Tuttoilmondo with the Galveston County Sheriff's Department said, "He lived alone. There were no other victims. There was no one else home at the time. We believe the preliminary arson investigation has indicated that the fire was accidental in nature."

Galveston County officials have already notified Sam's out-of-state family members, but it will be his Crystal Beach family that will miss him the most.

One of the local fire chiefs said it might have helped Sam escape if the home had more than one exit, but they can't know for sure.

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