Former volunteer firefighter Donnie Smith dies in house fire - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Former volunteer firefighter dies in house fire; 2 dogs found by his side

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ALBEMARLE, NC (WBTV) -

Fire officials in Stanly County say a volunteer firefighter was found burned to death in a house fire early Friday morning in Stanly County.

According to Aquadale Fire Chief Terry Smith, the body of 61-year-old Donnie Smith was found in the remains of his home along Old Aquadale Road in Albemarle.

Firefighters were called to the home at 12:04 a.m. Friday morning to the report of a fire.

The first fire crews arrived about 5 minutes later to find the structure fully involved with heavy flames showing.

Chief Smith says Donnie Smith was living in the home alone. His wife died in 2000.

"He was a good guy," said Smith. "And a close friend."

Smith said responding to a fire knowing who was inside was especially difficult.

"Once you wake up in the morning, you're not promised to lay your head back down on the pillow at the end of the day," said Smith.

WBTV has learned that three dogs also died in the fire; a cocker spaniel and 2 Jack Russells. Two of the dogs were found lying next to the Smith's body.

Smith was a former volunteer firefighter for the Aquadale Fire Department until his health went downhill, Chief Smith told WBTV.

"Aquadale's a tight-knit community. And it really hurts when it's one of your guys that you used to fight side by side with," said Smith.

Investigators are looking into the cause of the fire. They say Smith was an occasional smoker, several heaters were found inside, and the house was old so electrical fire can't be ruled out.

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