Wheelchair-bound man dies in house fire; wife severely burned trying to save him

Wheelchair-bound man dies in house fire; wife severely burned trying to save him

ALEXANDER COUNTY, N.C. — Investigators said a 75-year-old man was killed in a house fire in Alexander County Tuesday evening, and his 74-year-old wife was airlifted to a hospital after trying to save him.

Chopper 9 Skyzoom flew over the scene around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and could see the medevac launching from the home on Marvin Church Court in Stony Point.

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Investigators said the man who died, identified as David Gaines, was in a wheelchair when the flames started.

Family members and neighbors said David Gaines was paralyzed, and his wife Alta took care of him.

Officials said his wife sustained second- and third-degree burns to 30 percent of her body while trying to get him out of the home.

Firefighters said she managed to get him to the rear door of the home, where neighbors helped pull him out.

They weren’t surprised to hear she tried to save him.

"There's no doubt about it. If there was any way she could do it, she would do it. She took care of him hand and foot," neighbor Bryant Waugh said.

“Ms. Alta would not leave him for nothing. She was not coming out of that house without him," neighbor Kim Dagenhart said.

Several neighbors described hearing explosions coming from the home. Authorities believe that was from an oxygen tank and ammunition inside the residence.

The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation and the Alexander County Sheriff's Office were back at the scene Wednesday working to determine the cause of the fire.

Officials believe it was an accidental fire that most likely started from an electrical problem.

Friends are praying Alta Gaines makes a full recovery.

“She would have done it over and over. It didn’t matter if it was a Johnny come lately walking down the road. If they were in trouble, she would jump up and she would do it,” her friend Jeff walker said.

Check back with woctv.com for updates.