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Fire victims identified

Space heater likely cause of blaze

POSTED: December 14, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Photo by Lewis Levine/

The mobile home that burned early Friday is on Kelly Drive, near Happy Acres Mobile Home Park.

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An early morning fire claimed the life of a Hinesville man and woman.Friday.
Hinesville Fire Chief Lamar Cook said the couple, who were found dead in a mobile home on the 1100 block of Kelly Drive in Hinesville, have been identified as Leroy Baker, 57, and Betty Murphy, 46. They were found in a rear bedroom.

Cook said trucks and firefighters from both of the department’s stations responded to a call of a structure fire shortly after midnight. When firefighters arrived flames could be seen racing through the trailer.

Cook said when the fire was extinguished firefighters searched the residence and found the couple. Cook said one body was found in the master bedroom and the other victim was found in a doorway of the bedroom.

Cook said it appears the fire started in the living room, where a space heater was found.

"At this time we cannot determine what actually caused the fire, but believe it started in the area of the space heater,” the chief said. “We have determined this fire does not appear to be suspicious."

Cook said he could not determine whether the home was equipped with smoke detectors due to the fire damage inside.

The state fire marshal was called to conduct an investigation. The bodies, according to Liberty County Coroner, Reginald Pierce will be taken to the GBI crime lab where autopsies will be conducted to determine the cause of death.

Elmo Collins a neighbor of Baker was shocked to learn of his death and the woman he called Miss Betty.

"He was a real quiet person, and well liked in the neighborhood. I’m sorry to hear this happened to very nice people. They will be missed," Collins said.

The mobile home was near Happy Acres Mobile Home Park, but is not one of the rentals. It is considered private property.

Cook said if any resident in Hinesville is in need of a smoke detector to call his department at 876-4143 and someone will come out to install it.

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