House fire kills Gulfport man

GULFPORT

State and local fire officials are investigating the cause of an early-morning fire Saturday that killed an Orange Grove homeowner.

Leroy Caldwell, 53, of the 200 block of Ben Drive, died from smoke inhalation, said Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove.

Deputy Fire Chief Billy Bragg said police arrived first to the 4:15 a.m. blaze, followed by eight Gulfport fire trucks. “They said it was going up through the roof when they got there,” he said.

Firefighters searched for Caldwell “after it was safe enough to go in,” Bragg said.

His body was found in the bathroom doorway of a bedroom, Hargrove said.

Deputy State Fire Marshal Mitchell Mixon investigated the scene Saturday with local investigators, but has not determined a cause of the blaze.

Neighbor Beverly Barnes said a loud noise and the smell of smoke woke her up shortly after 4 a.m.

She rushed outside with her children thinking it was her own house on fire.

She said she is saddened by Caldwell’s death.

Bragg said Caldwell lived alone. No one else was injured in the fire, he said.

By DONNA MELTON – dmelton@sunherald.com

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