Early morning house fire claims elderly man

By Erika Pedroza | Published Wednesday, November 14, 2012

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An elderly, handicapped man died in a house fire between Cottondale and Boyd early Sunday morning.

Henry Crowson was the only occupant of the single-wide mobile home ravaged by flames just before 5 a.m.

His body was found several hours later.

FATAL FIRE – A fire that destroyed a mobile home between Cottondale and Boyd early Sunday morning, killed the home’s only occupant, Henry Crowson. When a neighbor discovered the fire just before 5 a.m., the home was fully involved. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

According to a longtime neighbor, “Curly,” as he was affectionately known, had lived on the property on County Road 4594 for almost 40 years.

“My dad and Curly each bought a piece of land on the very same day, back in the ’70s,” Jason Carter said. “I’ve known him my whole life.”

Carter discovered the fire around 4:45 a.m. Sunday after being awakened by the wind.

“I thought I heard my shop door opening and closing I was walking out to the shop, and I could see the flames over the trees,” he said. “I woke up my wife and told her to be ready in case the fire came this way. Then I ran over there. The house was almost already burned down. I started hollering his name and looking around, hoping he had got out.”

Cottondale, Paradise, Newark and Boyd volunteer fire departments responded to the structure fire. When Cottondale units first checked on scene around 5:20, the single-wide mobile home was fully engulfed.

“It was a defensive fire from the beginning,” said Paradise Fire Chief John Neal, whose department assumed command.

After the fire was contained and under control around 6 a.m., command temporarily ceased fire operations because connected power was causing sparking.

“Given it’s a total loss of the home, we didn’t want to risk our firefighters’ (safety),” Neal said.

Once power was cut, firefighters continued the overhaul and found the body.

The Denton County and state fire marshals are leading an investigation, which is protocol for a fire fatality. The cause of the fire is unknown and might not be determined because of the extent of the damage, Neal said. Arson is not suspected but is not ruled out, he added.

Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Terri Johnson pronounced Crowson dead shortly after 1 p.m.

“I hadn’t gone to check on him in a while, but I did see him at Dos Chiles a couple of weeks ago,” Carter said. “He used to go up there every day and just sit around and talk to people. He loved talking to people. It seemed like he knew everybody.”

Carter remembers the “easygoing” Curly being in a band. He also recalls his devotion to his abounding gardens and his benevolence.

“He loved to garden, and he did it until he couldn’t do it anymore,” Carter said. “He grew all kinds of vegetables and would give them away. He was a nice, giving man. He was always kind.”

Crowson was preceded in death by his wife “about 10 years ago,” Carter said. They had a son and a daughter, who now live in the Metroplex.

Service for Crowson is pending at Jones Family Funeral Home in Bridgeport.

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