Wilmington, Delaware Man Dies In Blaze

An elderly man died early Sunday after firefighters pulled him unconscious from his burning house on West 24th Street in Wilmington, authorities said.

The victim, who lived alone, was identified as 89-year-old Larry Berlin, said Capt. Michael R. Schaal of the Wilmington Fire Department said.

A next-door neighbor tried to rescue the man before firefighters arrived at the home in the 900 block, neighbor Ann Mielke said.

"He heard the fire before the flames really started going and he broke in the windows, but he couldn't find the little man who lived there and he was screaming in the street for help," she said. "A lot of the neighbors called 911."

Berlin was declared dead of unspecified injuries at Wilmington Hospital at 12:30 a.m. Sunday, Schaal said.

The fire was declared under control at 12:08 a.m. Its cause and origin were being investigated by the city fire department's Fire Marshal's Office. Investigators said they did not believe the house had working smoke detectors.

Fire was rolling from the front of the brick duplex when firefighters arrived about 11:45 p.m., Schaal said. Neighbors told them they feared the man was trapped inside, he said. About 30 firefighters battled the blaze and searched the burning building. They found the man on the second floor.

Emergency Medical Services personnel treated him at the scene and took him to the hospital, but attempts to revive him failed, Schaal said. The fire fatality is the fourth in the state this year.

Damage to the house was estimated at $25,000 to $30,000.

Mielke said Berlin will be missed. "He was here, I think, about 60 years," she said. "He's been a fixture in the neighborhood. He used to walk and go outside every day. Everybody knew him."