Poplar Bluff man killed in early morning house fire

Sunday, October 30, 2011
Poplar Bluff Fire Chief Ralph Stucker (left) and police detective J.R. Keirsey investigate the scene of a house fire at 1401 N. 12th St., which claimed the life of the resident early Friday morning. (Paul Davis/Daily American Republic)

POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. -- Local and state investigators remained on the scene Friday morning of an overnight house fire that claimed the life of a Poplar Bluff man.

David L. Buchanan, 53, was found dead inside the bedroom of his home at 1401 N. 12th St., according to Butler County Coroner Jim Akers, who responded a little after 4 a.m.

"His body was not badly damaged; we were able to do an examination and were able to determine there was no foul play," Akers said.

No autopsy is planned as "we know he died of smoke inhalation," Akers said.

Buchanan's preliminary cause of death is carbon monoxide poisoning due to smoke inhalation and the manner of death is accidental, he said. Toxicology analysis is pending, he said. The Poplar Bluff Fire Department responded to Buchanan's one-story home just before 3:40 a.m.

"We had a lot of flames showing" from a roof, said fire department Capt. John Russell. "Initially, one guy attacked the fire coming from the roof and a kitchen window. Then, we forced the door and went through the front door. There was too much fire to go in any farther than the kitchen area."

Once the fire was "knocked down, we used the thermal (imaging) camera, and we found him in the bedroom," said Russell, who described the bedroom as being located close to the kitchen area.

The "biggest part" of the fire was in the kitchen, but there also was a "tremendous amount of heat and smoke," Russell said. "It almost burned the roof off."

The ceiling, Russell said, was tongue and groove boards, not sheet rock.

Firefighters, Russell said, remained on the scene about three hours.

Butch Amann, an investigator with the State Fire Marshal's Office, responded to the scene, as did Capt. David Dudley.

According to fire chief Ralph Stucker, it's a "little soon" to know the cause of the fire.

As fire investigators attempt to determine the cause of the fire, Akers said, he and Poplar Bluff Police detective J.R. Keirsey conducted the "criminal side of the investigation."

In addition to their being no signs of trauma to Buchanan, Akers said, his home was secure.

"Both doors were dead bolted; we know there was no outside foul play," Akers said. "I've requested the fire marshal to determine the cause and manner of the fire. My final ruling will be made after I get his report."

Pertinent address:

1401 N. 12th St., Poplar Bluff, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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