• 54-year-old DeLand man critically injured in house fire investigators call ‘suspicious'

    By: Mike Springer

    Updated:

    DELAND, Fla. - A 54-year-old DeLand man was in critical condition Friday with second- and third-degree burns covering 80 percent of his body after a house fire that investigators are currently calling “suspicious.”

    The victim, identified as Willie T. Jones, escaped the burning home on West Ida Street, but his neighbor told Channel 9 that he was struggling to breathe and had been seriously burned.

    “He was conscious when they took him out of there,” William Taylor Sr. said. “He was gasping for breath. You could tell that he got smoke inhaled.”

    Taylor said he saw Jones trying to smother the fire with a blanket, but was burned by the flames.

    By the time firefighters arrived, they said the home was more than 75 percent involved.

    Investigators had not determined the cause or origin of the fire, which is why it is currently being called suspicious.

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