Disabled veteran dies in house fire

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 15, 1999

A wheelchair-bound disabled veteran died Sunday as he unsuccessfully tried to escape his burning house.

Fire investigators said Herious Cotton was found dead at the locked door of his house at 1200 Mascagni Ave.

&uot;He went to the door and tried to get out, but I’m sure by the time he got over there he was probably disoriented by the smoke and heat and couldn’t open the lock,&uot; said Natchez Fire Chief Gary Winborne.

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Firefighters received the call at 3:58 p.m. and were on the scene in three minutes, Winborne said.

He was alone at the time the fire started.

Winborne said he believes the fire started accidentally, probably by Cotton smoking a pipe.

&uot;From what we could see, he must have been smoking,&uot; he said. &uot;We found a lot of tobacco products near where it started.

&uot;He was probably smoking and caught the chair next to him on fire,&uot; Winborne said. &uot;He could have dropped (the pipe) and since he was in a wheelchair, he may not have been able to get it.&uot;

Winborne said smoking accidents are the number one cause of accidental fires.

&uot;People really need to have a plan on how to get in and out in case of a fire,&uot; Winborne said.

Cotton’s death is the third fire fatality this year. His age was unavailable.