FLORENCE — The state fire marshal will assist the investigation into a fatal house fire that destroyed a home off Meadow Grove Lane in Lauderdale County.
Sheriff Rick Singleton said his department received a call at around 1:30 p.m. Saturday from a woman who was in Huntsville at the time and said the home’s security system, which she could monitor remotely, showed her ex-husband entering the house.
The home was on fire soon after, and Zip City and Underwood-Petersville volunteer departments responded to the call.
However, firefighters were forced to “stage” – a term that means they could not go onto the property until it was deemed safe for them to do so.
Singleton said the first deputy on the scene “heard what he thought sounded like a gunshot.” Authorities didn’t know if the man was in the house or in a detached garage on the property.
"The first deputy on the scene secured the roadway," Singleton said. "In a situation like this the fire department was on scene but was staging. We didn't know where the (man) was."
Singleton said vehicles owned by the man were on the property.
Singleton said the Florence-Lauderdale SWAT unit was called in to assist.
"They made entry into the detached garage and cleared it.
"They secured the property . . . (and) did not locate the gentleman" in the garage, Singleton said. Authorities then turned their attention to the home.
"The house is a total loss," Singleton said when contacted later that afternoon. He said officials were waiting for firefighters to "cool the house down. We're going on the theory that he's inside the house. We think he's still on the property."
A body was discovered at approximately 6:35 p.m. The man has not been identified.
The house is in a quiet neighborhood with well maintained brick homes and lawns. Some people had parked their vehicles and were sitting quietly nearby while others who lived next door or across the street watched from their homes.
Singleton said the neighborhood was not evacuated during the incident.