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Man dies in mobile home fire

WOODLEAF — A man died this morning in a mobile home fire in western Rowan County.
Kenneth Ray Koontz, 67, lived alone in the home at 159 Cone Drive off Wrangler Road, authorities said.
Relatives and neighbors say they believe he died in the fire, but an investigator with the Rowan County Fire Marshal’s Office said the remains recovered from the destroyed home have not been positively identified as Koontz.
The fire started around 7 a.m. today. The cause remains unconfirmed, but fire investigator Deborah Horne said it appeared to have started in the kitchen. A detective from the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office told a Post reporter that a pot had apparently been left on the stove with a burner on.
Koontz used oxygen for medical reasons and smoked, relatives said, but Horne said the oxygen tanks were not a factor in how the fire began.
A volunteer firefighter on his way to work heard the call at 7:10 a.m. reporting a fully involved structure fire. He immediately went to the scene, Horne said, but when he broke a window and tried to go inside the home, thick smoke pushed him back.
Firefighters had to maneuver around live power lines until a Duke Energy crew arrived.
“Woodleaf Fire Department and all the fire departments involved did a fantastic job,” Horne said. “They got here quick. They had a quick attack on the fire, but of course, there was nothing at that point that could be done for the victim inside.”
The man had health problems that would have made it difficult for him to get out on his own, Horne said, and he was likely overtaken by the smoke.
Neighbors said the home, where Koontz had lived for about seven years, was quickly engulfed and burned in less than 20 minutes.
“It’s a single-wide mobile home,” Horne said. “There was a smoke detector inside, but when you’re dealing with single-wides, they can go up in as little as five minutes. “
Wrangler Road runs off N.C. 801 near Cool Springs Road. Cone Drive is a private road off Wrangler with a number of mobile homes.
Read Saturday’s Post for more details.

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