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Gum Branch fire victim identified
Gum Branch Fire1
Firefighters work at Max Long's home Monday afternoon. - photo by Photo by Lewis Levine
Read Max Long's obituary: Click here

An elderly Gum Branch resident died during a fire at his home Monday afternoon.

Authorities are not sure what killed Max Long, who is in his late 70s, according to Liberty County Sheriff's Department Keith Moran. He did say that no foul play is suspected, that both the fire and death are being treated as accidents as of Monday evening.

Gum Branch Fire Chief Thomas Fisher said Long's nephew, Jon Long, discovered the fire when he went to check on him about 4 p.m.

The younger Long, who is a retired Georgia Patrol trooper, reportedly broke into the house after seeing smoke coming out and pulled Max Long outside to a patio, where he was later pronounced dead.

Fisher said authorities are unsure what started the fire, but damage was contained to contents and furnishings in the livingroom, where Max Long's body was found in a chair.

The fire chief said when firefighters arrived, smoke was coming from the house and they quickly contained the flames.

Guy Wells, a former Gum Branch fire chief, said Max Long lived alone in the house in the 8900 block of Highway 196, near Long Road. He was a former merchant marine, who lived many years in Tennessee before his wife died and he moved back to Liberty County.

An autopsy is supposed to be performed to determine the cause of death. And an investigator with the State Fire Marshal's Office is trying to determine what started the fire.

Firefighters from both the Hinesville and Gum Branch fire departments responded to the alarm.

-- Reported by Lewis Levine

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