No foul play suspected in fire, deathPublished 9:46pm Thursday, October 31, 2013
Firefighters made a tragic discovery in Washington Wednesday night when an extinguished brush fire revealed the body of 88-year-old Richard Lee Balzer.
The call regarding an out of control brush fire went out around 6 p.m. — the caller said the brush fire was threatening a bin of some sort and a Cedar tree in a yard on Dan Taylor Road. Old Ford Volunteer Fire Department was first to respond, along with Clark’s Neck Volunteer Fire Department, and it was as the fire was being extinguished that Balzer’s body was found.
On the scene, law enforcement and emergency vehicles from many area agencies lined Dan Taylor Road, off Market Street Extension, as investigators determined what had happened.
According to Major Kenneth Watson, spokesman for the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, Balzer had been doing yard work earlier in the day and had told his wife he would be burning yard debris.
“Later in the evening she looked outside and saw the fire getting out of control and couldn’t locate her husband, so she called 911,” Watson said.
Watson said there’s no indication of foul play — that Balzer died before the fire spread is the likely explanation.
“That’s one of the things we’re looking into,” Watson said. “We’re working with the medical examiner’s officer to determine the exact cause of death.”
Information collected at the scene and preliminary autopsy results indicate Balzer died of medical complications before the fire got out of control, Watson wrote in a later press release.