Local man dies in Oak Park fire

OKEECHOBEE — An Oak Park home was totally destroyed Saturday night by a fire that also took the life of a 31-year-old autistic man who lived in the home, stated a sheriff’s office report.

A report by Deputy Daniel Eng, of the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO), stated that firefighters found Patrick Leroy Green’s body in a corner of his bedroom.

Okeechobee County Fire/Rescue (OCF/R) Chief Ralph Franklin said his department responded around 11:24 p.m. to the home fire at 3595 S.W. 21st St.house fire

“Upon arrival, units found a concrete block residential structure fully involved with fire venting from the windows and the roof,” stated Chief Franklin in a press release. “The preliminary investigation indicates the cause may be from the use of gasoline to start a fire in the fireplace.”

According to Deputy Eng’s report a resident of the home, Patrick Buckley, poured gasoline on some logs in the fireplace and then placed the gas container on the floor. As he lit the logs on fire, he apparently did not notice a small trail of spilled gas from the logs to the container.

That container, continued the deputy, then caught fire.

“Patrick attempted to smother the fire, but that did not work,” added Deputy Eng.

Mr. Buckley then went to the bedroom of his sister, Karen Green. Both of them managed to safely get out of the CBS home.

The deputy’s report went on to state that Mr. Buckley went back inside the burning home to get his nephew, Patrick.

“Patrick (Buckley) attempted to grab Mr. Green and take him outside, but Mr. Green pulled away from Patrick,” stated the deputy.

Patrick Leroy Green then ran into a corner of his bedroom.

Out of air, Mr. Buckley was forced to leave the home and his nephew.

The home and its contents were declared a total loss, noted the OCF/R chief.

Chief Franklin said fire units remained at the scene for more than four hours to not only “mop up hot spots” but to help an investigator from the state fire marshal’s office.

Two OCF/R engines, one rescue vehicle, two water tenders and the deputy chief responded to the Feb. 20 blaze, along with one engine from the Okeechobee City Fire Department.

“The Red Cross was called to the scene and is assisting the residents with any needs,” added the chief.

Chief Franklin also made note of a very important safety message: “Never use accelerants to start a fire in a fireplace.”

Deputy Eng’s report pointed out that the fire was declared accidental by the investigator from the Fire Marshal’s office.

Eric Kopp is a staff writer for the Okeechobee News

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