Son loses his father to a fatal fire in Downtown Orlando

- Fire investigators investigated a deadly fire Monday morning at 111 North Lee Avenue in Orlando’s Parramore neighborhood.

The Orlando Fire Department says that units responded to the fire around 7:41 a.m.

SkyFox captured the fire.

Upon arrival, fire units say that the residential structure was fully involved in with flames and smoke. They were notified that there was an occupant, identified as Johnnie Pitts, inside the home. A firefighter pulled Pitts from the home, while his son, Samuel Benton, was able to escape.

Fox 35 Reporter Dana Jay was on scene and spoke to the Orlando Fire Department, who confirmed that Pitts was taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center. It was later confirmed that he succumbed to his injuries.

Fire investigators say that the fire was accidental. A number of space heaters were reportedly found inside the home, however, it cannot be determined whether the proximity of the space heater led to the fire or that the space heater itself could have malfunctioned. The home did not have any working smoke detectors.

Fire units said that there were metal bars on the windows of the home and that the combustible items inside the home made access a challenge. In fact, District Chief Walter Lewis said firefighters had to make two attempts to rescue Pitts, pulling out the first time because flames were so intense and there was so much stuff in the house.

Samuel Benton told Dana Jay that he was in the home with his father, Johnnie Pitts, when the fire broke out around 7 a.m.

“I was in the living room asleep.  He woke me up and told me to get some water.  I told him you can’t put a fire out.  You have to get out of the house,” said Benton, who managed to escape.

Dana Jay also captured firefighters at the scene praying with the victims of the fire.


Neighbor Kim Holman said Pitts was well-liked and “a really good neighbor.”

“He sits under the tree.  Every morning I go to work and he’s under the tree.  If I’m working late, he’s under the tree or on the porch to make sure that I get in,” Holman said.

The Orlando Fire Department wants to remind residents to check the safety of their home. They also urge that as cooler weather continues in Orlando, please use heating appliances with caution. This includes space heaters, fireplaces, generators, ovens, etc. And finally, they suggest you have a working smoke alarm. This is the first line of defense to notify an occupant of smoke inside a residence.

Orlando firefighters will go door-to-door tomorrow to install free smoke alarms in the neighborhood surrounding the Lee Avenue area.





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