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Lake County Fire Death Being Investigated by State Fire Marshal Ocala Investigators


MOUNT PLYMOUTH, FLORIDA - Investigators from the Office of State Fire Marshal in Ocala are working with the Lake County Sheriff's Office to investigate the death of a Lake County resident in a trailer fire Sunday morning.

The Lake County Fire and Rescue Division was called to the mobile home at #4 Madison Drive, Mount Plymouth, after neighbors reported seeing smoke and flames at 8:07 a.m. Sunday. When firefighters arrived, they found the trailer engulfed in flames and neighbors attempting to fight the fire with garden hoses. After extinguishing the fire, emergency personnel found the body of John Charles Howsam, 69, inside the structure.

The cause of Howsam's death is under investigation by the medical examiner's office. Investigators with the State Fire Marshal's Ocala Field Office say the fire caused approximately $40,000 worth of damage to his doublewide trailer.

The remains of a smoke detector were found in the mobile home, but investigators were unable to determine whether the alarm was functioning when the fire started.

Officials of the State Fire Marshal's Office, Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations, remind Floridians to check their smoke detectors at least twice a year to be sure they are working properly. Other tips:

· Check and change the batteries twice a year when the time changes.

· Smoke detectors should be placed outside each bedroom.

· Do not disable smoke alarms while cooking.

The Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations is a law enforcement branch of the Division of State Fire Marshal that assists other state and local fire and law enforcement agencies in the investigation of fires of suspicious origin. Anyone with information about this case is asked to call 1-877-662-7766 (1-877-NOARSON) or the Lake County Sheriff's Office at 352-343-9500. Information also may be mailed to Arson Control, P.O. Box 1654, Winter Park, Florida, 32790.