Cause of fatal fire not known

“There’s so much damage … it’s going to be hard to actually pinpoint where it started,” Pleasant Twp. Fire Chief Mike Willis said Friday.

The trailer’s lone occupant, Michael “Gene” Pierson, was found dead inside. The Clark County Coroner’s Office had to rely on dental records to confirm the 59-year-old’s identity.

The state fire marshal’s office has ruled the cause of the fire as undetermined, but foul play has been ruled out, Willis said.

“I’m going to assume it’s going to stay that way,” he said.

Investigators have reason to believe it originated in the mobile home’s front living room, where Pierson’s body was found, Willis said.

The trailer, at 106 Banyon Drive, caught fire about 11 p.m. Thursday, and became fully engulfed.

Contrary to the complaints of some neighbors, dispatch records show that the first firefighters arrived on the scene within five minutes. Crews were dispatched at 11:02 p.m., and the first crew arrived at 11:07 p.m.

Mutual aid was brought in from Moorefield, Springfield and Harmony twps., and from Central Twp. in Madison County, to keep the fire from spreading.

“It takes manpower and water,” Willis said. “They burn so fast and they burn so hot. That’s the big problem with the mobile homes.”

The flames partially burned Joe Hickey’s trailer next door.

“I was freaking out,” Hickey said Friday as his nephew worked to repair the damage.

Neither he nor Cheryl Newman, another next-door neighbor, said they knew Pierson well, saying he was a nice guy who kept to himself.

“Sometimes,” Newman said, “we worried about him. He’d come home and you wouldn’t see him again for three or four days.”

Newman couldn’t believe the fire’s intensity.

“The whole time I was thinking, ‘Please don’t let him be in there,’” she said. “It’s sad. It’s really sad.”

She didn’t even know Pierson’s last name — something she regrets.

“Now I wish I would’ve gotten to know him better,” she said.

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