Neighbors remember man killed in Burke Co. trailer fire

by: Torie Wells Updated:

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BURKE COUNTY, N.C. - Flowers, caution tape and a black, charred foundation are all that's left of a trailer that was engulfed, killing the man who lived there.

Firefighters were called out to the home on Clarks Loop Road near Morganton around 11 p.m. Wednesday.

Fire crews and neighbors tried to reach Gary Kirksey, 57, but couldn't.

The fire was so intense, it melted the siding on a home next door. At the time of the fire, a 6-year-old was sleeping on the other side of a wall.

Neighbors said for about a year Kirksey and his dog called the place home.

"He sat on his porch and listened to music with his dog," said neighbor Cara Newton.

The front porch still stands but it's badly charred.

It's a sad reminder for Cassey Greer, who lives next door.

"He never bothered anyone, he was the nicest man ever," Greer said.

Greer said before officials could get there her boyfriend and several others ran toward the fire to try and help.

"They busted out all the windows trying to get in there to him. It was so full smoke they couldn't get to him," she said.

The fire marshal said the cause is still under investigation, but he thinks the fire may have started in the living room area.

The Sheriff's Office said the victim was Kirksey. An official identification will be made after an autopsy.

"We all sat here and prayed he wasn't inside," Newton said.

"I just wish we were able to get him out," Greer said.

Just 50 feet away, the siding on Greer's home is melted -- the fire was that intense.

"They said less than 20 minutes, our house would have been gone," Greer said.

She's thankful that didn't happen, especially since her 6-year-old son was sleeping on the other side of the wall.

"Today he said, 'Am I going to ever be able to go back inside my bedroom or is it still going to be hot?'" Greer said.

Kirksey's daughter stopped by Thursday afternoon. She didn't want to talk on camera, but said she wanted people to know he was loved by his daughter and that he was never far from his dog, Skippy.