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Fire claims life of disabled man

By Kathy Chaffin
Salisbury Post
WOODLEAF ó The death of a disabled man in a Brison Road house fire Friday evening hit close to home for the Scotch-Irish Fire Department.
Two firefighters with the department were related to 65-year-old David Ronald Browning of 1510 Brison Road, according to Chief Wesley Steele.
And Browning, who lived on the dirt road named after his late father, Brison Browning, had attended South River Methodist Church with Steele for years. “He was a very nice, considerate man,” Steele said.
Though he was able to stand with support, Browning had been basically confined to a wheelchair since suffering a stroke.
His sister, Barbara Browning, told investigators that she tried to get him out of the house when the fire started, but was unable to move him. Steele said Browning said she tried to call 911 from the burning house, but the phone line was dead, so she ran to a neighbor’s house to call.
When she went back, Steele said the fire was so bad that she couldn’t get back in.
Barbara Browning suffered from smoke inhalation in the fire and was transported by ambulance to Rowan Regional Medical Center, where a hospital spokeswoman said she was treated and released three hours later.
David Ronald Browning had lived in Statesville until his stroke. Then he moved in with his sister.
He had reportedly suffered another stroke last week.
The fire, which was called in at 7:25 p.m., was fully involved when Scotch-Irish Capt. Donnie Myers arrived on the scene with Engine 732, Steele said.
Firefighters from the Woodleaf and Rowan-Iredell departments in Rowan assisted in putting out the fire along with the Cooleemee and Jerusalem departments of Davie County.
“Everything worked very well,” Steele said. “We had a good response, and we ran a tanker shuttle out of a pond on Needmore Road.”
The cause of the fire is under investigation by Rowan County Fire Marshal Tom Murphy and his investigators, the Rowan County Sheriff’s Department and the SBI.
Steele said the narrow dirt road combined with a thunderstorm made fighting the fire more difficult. “The rain really helped,” he said, “but there were several downpours at the time they got there.”
Firefighters arriving on the scene checked to see if Browning had gotten out through the back door, Steele said, but his body was later recovered in the debris.
Deborah Horne, inspector/investigator for the Rowan County Fire Marshal’s Office, said firefighters were not able to go inside the house because the floor had started caving in when they arrived.
Steele said firefighters close to David Ronald Browning will hopefully be able to take comfort in knowing that they did all they could.
“You work with what you have,” he said.
South River Methodist Church had planned to collect a love offering this morning for Barbara Browning, who is reportedly staying with an aunt.
The last fatality in the Scotch-Irish fire district was more than 20 years ago, Steele said.
Contact Kathy Chaffin at 704-797-4249 or kchaffin@salisburypost.com.

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