A man died Sunday after flames engulfed his San Luis Obispo mobile home and left the back of it a structural skeleton.
Fire damage was limited to a single home, and no one else was found inside. The cause of the fire appears to be smoking in bed, according to a San Luis Obispo Fire Department report. If confirmed by investigators, this would mark the fifth smoking-related fire death this year in San Luis Obispo County.
Officers are not releasing the name of the deceased until his next of kin have been notified. A list at the Chumash Village park office on South Higuera Street states that "Creel, T." occupied the mobile home. Neighbors said the resident's first name is Troy.
County property records show the mobile home is owned by Troy J. Creel, 68.
Just after noon on Sunday, those neighbors gathered outside in their socks to watch as firefighters broke into the home at Space 228 and carried the man into the street.
Chumash Village resident Kathy Sylvia said when she spotted gray smoke billowing up over a nearby row of homes, she thought at first that someone was barbecuing.
But still, her husband, John, went to check it out.
"He came down the street and started yelling to me at the porch," Sylvia said. "I immediately called 911."
Battalion Chief Bob Rutledge of the San Luis Obispo Fire Department said firefighters responding to the 12:14 p.m. call found the mobile home in flames when they arrived.
"Crews went in immediately and found a male subject," Rutledge said. "He was treated on scene and transported to (French) Hospital."
A hospital representative said Creel was never admitted to French Hospital Medical Center, where he was taken to the emergency room. San Luis Obispo fire investigator John Madden confirmed he died.
Phil Dever has lived across the street from Creel for 10 years and watched Sunday as his longtime neighbor was loaded into an ambulance.
Dever said he didn't know "Troy" very well.
"He kind of kept to himself," Dever said. I knew him "just well enough to wave and say hello."
Mike and Reba Maloney live in a yellow mobile home two doors down from Dever.
"All we know is his first name is Troy and he lives alone and he's been somewhat handicapped," Mike Maloney said.
The Maloneys said Creel had meals delivered to him and whenever he would go out to get them or put out the trash, they'd wave.
"He talked about wanting to get a Harley (Davidson motorcycle) and drive away, but it was pretty clear he wouldn't be able to do that," Mike Maloney said of the neighbor, who seemed in poor health.
Norma Fulvio, who lives next door and also knew the victim as just Troy, said she felt bad for him and that the jumping flames made her nervous.
Officers "asked me to move my cars (out of the carport) and out to the street because they were worried the cars would explode," Fulvio said. "That was scary because (the flames) just kept coming this way."
Distributed by the Associated Press