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East Lincoln man dies in fire

Cause of deadly blaze remains under investigation

Richard Helms Jr., 73, died as a result of a fire that swept through his home in southeastern Lincoln County on Sunday.

Staff Writer
An elderly man is dead following a fatal house fire New Year’s Day in the eastern end of the county.
Fire officials remain uncertain as to what exactly instigated the blaze that killed 73-year-old resident Richard Helms Jr., at his mobile home Sunday at 5702 Clintwood Drive in southeastern Lincoln County, according to a Sheriff’s Office press release.
Helms’ girlfriend, Barbara Smith, who was also at the home during the time of the incident, told deputies that he had gone back into the residence before firefighters’ arrival in order to salvage some photos.
He suffered severe burns, according to Kim Green, Training Coordinator for Lincoln County Emergency Medical Services.
Fire crews responded to the residence around 10:20 p.m. while law enforcement officials, including Lincoln County sheriff’s detectives, arrived at the home around 2 a.m., a release said.
“Fire was coming out of every window,” East Lincoln Fire Chief Tim Tench told the Lincoln Times-News on Tuesday morning.
Tench said he arrived at the home about three to five minutes after the first fire engine.
Smith told deputies that the fire originated in the kitchen and that three candles had been burning inside the home.
However, a cause remains undetermined at this time, fire officials said.
Additional responding agencies included fire departments from East Lincoln, Alexis and Lucia-Riverbend along with Lincoln County Emergency Medical Services.
The Lincoln County Fire Marshal’s Office is conducting an ongoing investigation into the fatal incident.

Image courtesy of Tennille Mullery / Special to LTN

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