Man in wheelchair, 4 dogs killed in house fire, Volusia County fire officials say

Identity of man killed released

NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. - Volusia County Sheriff's Office has identified the man on Thursday they say was killed in a house fire on Wednesday in New Smyrna Beach.

[AUDIO: 911 calls released]

Fire officials said the fire ignited on Porto Boulevard in the Mission Oaks mobile home condos at approximately 11 a.m. Richard Lao, 59, has been identified as the man who died in the fire.

Volusia County Sheriff's Office has also released the 911 calls, in which the caller says "oh Lord, please don't let that man be in the house."

Germaine Lambert looked out her window to find smoke and immediately called for help as other neighbors tried to put out the fire that was taking over the New Smyrna Beach home.

Firefighters found Lao, who they say was in a wheelchair, after extinguishing the fire, according to officials.

The cause of death has been determined as smoke inhalation.

Neighbors tell Local 6 Lao moved in a few months ago and that the same mobile home was condemned before.

Lambert, who lives across from the home, called for help, "and I said 'you better hurry the roof is all in flames and the windows are coming out, but I said there's a fire. Dogs are in there. I don't know if there's a person in there."

Lambert said neighbors tried to help, "They got the water hose and they broke in the back door because he knew the dogs were there."

The man was so badly burned, crews are going to have to wait for an autopsy to confirm who exactly is the victim.

Family members of the man who lives there were on the scene, they are just heartbroken.

They believe they've not only lost a husband, a father, but all of their pets.
Meanwhile, neighbors like Germaine keep playing back the moments they saw the house engulfed.

"It's scary and this area is so full of trees, I tell you, it's scary," said Lambert.

Firefighters are working to learn the cause of the fire. Some neighbors say the man who lived there smoked, but no word if that caused it.

Also, some neighbors speculate a space heater may have caused this, but investigators say they haven't found one.

Watch Local 6 for more on this story.

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