A New Caney man was found dead inside the bedroom of his partially burned mobile home on Saturday morning.
The New Caney Fire Fire Department, C Shift responded to the home of 44-year-old William Evans Hallmark, Jr. located on North Navasota near Russell. They entered and found heavy fire and smoke almost at the floor level, which they quickly extinguished, but it was already too late for Mr. Hallmark.
Pct. 4 Justice of the Peace James Metts conducted an inquest and ordered an autopsy.
The Montgomery County Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating. Assistant Fire Marshal Scott Burlin responded to the scene and said the fire’s origin appeared to be near the stove.
Hallmark owned an air conditioning business and was involved in racing. Several friends from his racing activities as well as local wrecker drivers responded to the scene to pay their respects. His two dogs survived the fire with no apparent injuries.
Official press release from the Montgomery County Fire Marshal’s Office
released Monday, Sept. 21, 2009.
On Saturday morning, September 19, around 0830 am, a neighbor called 911 to report a mobile home on fire. The New Caney Fire Department responded to the fire in the 20600 block of North Navasota Drive to find fire in the kitchen area and heavy smoke conditions throughout. A team of fire fighters entered the burning mobile home in an attempt to rescue any occupants. They located the owner, later identified at William “Bill” Hallmark, age 44, unconscious in his bedroom at the far end of the mobile home. He was pulled from the burning home by New Caney fire fighters Jerod Griffin, Wesley Glaze and John Arnold, who then started CPR on the victim. I In spite of gallant efforts by fire fighters and MCHD EMS personnel, Bill Hallmark was pronounced dead at the scene. The home is a total loss. One of Harwood’s two dogs perished in the fire as well.
Fire Marshal’s Office investigators spent the morning examining the home to determine the cause of this fatal fire. It was determined that the fire originated in the kitchen, on the stove top. It appeared that at some point the victim had been cooking and had left the stove unattended. The burning food ignited nearby combustible items in the kitchen. It was also discovered that there were no smoke detectors in the home.
On Sunday morning, New Caney Fire Department responded to another house fire in the 19700 block of Myers Lane. This incident had a very different ending than the day before, however, because of the presence of smoke detectors. The Santibanez family was awakened around 0630 AM by the sound of their smoke alarms going off. All 4 family members including two small children escaped their burning home. The cause of this second fire was traced back to an extension cord.
“This is a good example of where the presence of smoke detectors saved lives by alerting the family to fire conditions in the second house fire. Unfortunately, because of the absence of smoke detectors, Bill Harwood did not receive that early warning, which most likely could have saved his life”, says Assistant Montgomery County Fire Marshal Scott Burlin.
Montgomery County experienced 5 fatal residential fires in 2008 and Bill Harwood’s death marks the 4th fatal fire this year. Montgomery County Fire Marshal Jimmy Williams reminds residents that we are approaching the winter heating season, and it is time to make sure that every home has working smoke detectors.
“Nationwide efforts by Firefighters and organizations like the National Fire Protection Association have been successful in convincing homeowners to install smoke detectors in 90% of American homes, however additional studies have shown that many times these detectors fail due to missing batteries, age or improper placement. “
Smoke detectors should be installed in every sleeping area and hallways on each floor of your home. Battery operated smoke detectors have a functional life span of 10 years and should be replaced with newer units. Many new smoke detectors come with long life batteries, which can last as long as 10 years without battery replacement.
The New Caney Fire Department offers assistance with smoke detectors, as does many of the County Fire Departments. Fire Chief Jeff Taylor wants residents to know that the New Caney program makes batteries, detectors, and installation if needed, available to Senior Citizens and indigent residents. Anyone interested should contact the New Caney Fire Department at (936) 689-3112.
If you or a family member needs assistance in other areas of Montgomery County, please contact your local Fire Department or the Montgomery County Fire Marshal’s Office.