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1/28/07-Mineola

Fire Kills Terminally Ill Cancer Patient

A house fire in Mineola leaves one man dead, and a family without a home. The fire broke out just after 6:30 Sunday morning in the 600 Block of Wren Street.  Eddie Ray Freeman, 70, who was bed-bound, was trapped by the flames in his bedroom and died in the fire. His wife, daughter and a family friend were all able to get out unharmed.  Today, KLTV 7's Lindsay Wilcox spoke with a neighbor who tried to save him.

When Sharon Sanders heard a knock on her door before the sun came up, she knew something was terribly wrong.  Next door, her landlord's house was engulfed in smoke. The homeowner, Eddie Ray Freeman, was stuck inside. His wife of 50 years, their daughter and a family friend escaped the fire.  They say they couldn't get to the room where Eddie was in bed, because it was completely engulfed in flames.

"I just came over here, and I tried to go through this front door over here trying to get Eddie Ray out, but I couldn't get him out," said Sharon.  "His wife kept saying 'Sharon, don't go in there. Don't go in there. My husband is already trapped in there, and he can't come out.'  I said, 'No, we've got to get him.  We've got to get him. We've got to get him,' but we couldn't get him out."

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, and family members told us off camera, they have no idea what happened.

Eddie Ray's wife, Norma Freeman, says she was cooking her husband breakfast this morning shortly before the fire broke out.  That's when she says a friend who was in the front living room of the house says she smelled something burning. They say within just seconds the house filled up with smoke, and it was too late to get her husband out.

Sharon had come to know Eddie Ray because she helped take care of him for the past two years. Family members say he was terminally ill with prostate cancer and had recently returned home after a short stay in hospice care.  "I'd change him, turn him, get him out of the bed," said Sharon.  "He was a sweet man.  He was real sweet."

The family is staying with relatives and working on Eddie Ray's funeral arrangements. Eddie Ray leaves behind his wife, two children, two grandchildren and three great grandchildren. The family says their poodle and Persian cat were also killed in the fire from smoke inhalation. 

Lindsay Wilcox, Reporting. lwilcox@kltv.com

 

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