• DeLand man dies from house fire investigators believe he set

    By: Mike Springer


    DELAND, Fla. - A 54-year-old DeLand man died after receiving second- and third-degree burns covering 70 percent of his body in a house fire that investigators believe he may have set himself.

    Willie T. Jones escaped the burning home on West Ida Street Friday, 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,” said neighbor William Taylor Sr. “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 he was burned by the flames.

    According to deputies, Jones received a 24-hour eviction notice Thursday which was upheld in court Friday, shortly before he returned to the house. 

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

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