UPDATE: Structure fire in Columbia leaves man dead

Wednesday, June 24, 2009 | 11:08 a.m. CDT; updated 9:19 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Boone County medical examiners and law enforcement officials investigate the scene of a fire that occurred in a trailer on Ray Lea Lane in Columbia early Wednesday morning.

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COLUMBIA — A structure fire at 7101 Ray Lea Lane left one man dead Wednesday morning. The victim was identified as John W. Shettlesworth, according to a news release from the Boone County Sheriff's Department.


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Shettlesworth, 57, called 911 at 6:52 a.m. for help. The Boone County Fire Protection District was on the scene in seven minutes, according to Division Chief Gale Blomenkamp.

Smoke could be seen from a mile away, and there were heavy flames when firefighters arrived on the scene, Blomenkamp said. Six fire trucks and 26 firefighters responded. Firefighters were unable to locate Shettlesworth until after the fire was extinguished. He was found dead in his living room, and a dog was found dead trapped in a back bedroom.

Officials confirmed that the smoke detectors were functioning because they were heard in the background of the 911 call. Shettlesworth told the dispatcher he was unable to get out of the house because his legs would not work.

The fire department considers the damage to be a total loss because the residence was an older trailer home, Blomenkamp said. This has been the second fatality fire this month in Columbia.

"The most recent one before that was in 2004," Blomenkamp said.

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined, Blomenkamp said, and the Fire District is currently conducting an investigation.

Already through May of this year, 771 residential fire (non-arson) fatalities have been recorded by the U.S. Fire Administration, 36 of them in Missouri.

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Annie Pimple June 24, 2009 | 3:49 p.m.

This is so sad. My prayers go out to him and his family.

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