Man dies of smoke inhalation in Hammond fire

Firefighters found the body of a 74-year-old man in a bedroom of his Hammond home after extinguishing a blaze late Friday, an official from the state Fire Marshal’s Office said.

The blaze took the life of Nathaniel Kelly Sr. despite his attempts to escape and his neighbors’ efforts to save him, Deputy Chief Brant Thompson, of the state Fire Marshal’s Office, said Saturday.

An autopsy Saturday revealed Kelly died of smoke inhalation, Thompson said.

A neighbor walking on Phoenix Street in Hammond shortly before 8:30 p.m. saw flames shooting from the home at 508 Phoenix and alerted Kelly’s neighbors, Thompson said.

The neighbors called 911, then tried forced their way in to rescue him by breaking some of the windows, Thompson said. But the intensity of the blaze pushed them back.

Firefighters in Hammond arrived at a home at about 8:30 p.m. Friday to find the wood home completely engulfed in flames, Thompson said.

“Smoke and flames were observed venting through windows and other small openings around the home,” he said.

Once the fire was out, they found Kelly in what investigators think is the master bedroom, Thompson said. They suspect Kelly was trying to escape through a window when he died.

While the investigation is still ongoing, officials have narrowed several heat sources in a hallway near the center of the residence as possible starting points for the deadly blaze, Thompson said.

It may take investigators a few days to sift through all the debris from the charred remains of the home, Thompson said. But one thing they have not found so far that Thompson said could have possibly saved Kelly was a smoke alarm.

“It’s unfortunate that we find so many of these fire deaths and there is no smoke alarms,” Thompson said. “They save lives.”