Fire destroys DeBary house where man died week before

By MARK HARPER
Staff Writer

Last update: 25 June 2003


DEBARY -- State fire investigators are looking into a Monday night blaze that destroyed a house where a man had been found dead a week earlier.

No one was injured in the fire, which also destroyed a pickup parked near the house.

Volusia County Deputy Fire Chief Frank Pocica said Monday night he didn't have any reason to believe the fire is suspicious, but the state Fire Marshal's Office, which investigates arson, has become the lead agency probing the blaze. Meanwhile, Volusia County sheriff's investigators are looking into the death of the home's occupant, Donnie Ray Smith, 39.

On June 16, sheriff's investigators were called to 199 Barwick Road after a Sanford woman discovered Smith's body in the living room. Blood was on his nose and a container of chlorodifluoromethane, commonly known as Freon, was next to him, according to a sheriff's report.

The Volusia County Medical Examiner's Office has yet to determine Smith's cause of death, said county spokesman Dave Byron. But Gary Davidson, a spokesman for the Sheriff's Office, said the case is considered accidental, not suspicious.

Shortly before 8 Monday night, a passerby alerted authorities to the fire on Barwick, a rural road in southwest DeBary near the Florida Power & Light plant.

Pocica estimated flames had already consumed 40 percent of the home when his first firefighters arrived 10 minutes after being dispatched. Before the blaze was controlled, 17 firefighters and other emergency personnel were at the scene.

Pocica wasn't sure whether anyone else lived at the house.

The home's owner is listed as VCM Ventures Enterprises Ltd., DeBary, on Volusia County property records. The house, which includes more than 2 acres, was sold in 2002 for $110,000.

Brian Jett, a neighbor at the scene Monday night, said Smith worked as an air-conditioning repairman. He said the house still had police tape on it before the fire ignited.

mark.harper@news-jrnl.com