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Officials ID York City man who died trying to rescue dogs from fire

Ron Musselman
York Dispatch

A York City man died in a three-alarm fire Thursday morning in York City while trying to rescue dogs trapped in the burning home, officials said. 

Brandon Raye Eaton, 24, died while trying to go back into the house at 608 S. Pershing Ave., according to the York County Coroner's Office and fire officials. 

"I didn't realize he went back in to get the dogs and no one ever saw him come back out," said Zack Billet, who also lived at the house.

No autopsy will be conducted on Eaton's body, according to a release from the coroner's office. Eaton's cause of death won't be determined until the results of other tests are known.

York City firefighters responded to a report of a structure fire with possible entrapment about 8 a.m. Thursday. Firefighters battled the fire for more than three hours. 

Several animals also died in the fire, which damaged two neighboring houses and caused about $315,000 in damage, York City Fire Chief Chad Deardorff said.

Lisa Landis, a spokeswoman for the Greater Pennsylvania Region chapter of the American Red Cross, said Thursday afternoon her organization was assisting 14 adults and four children who were displaced by the fire with shelter, food and clothing.

“However, we are continuing to meet with affected families, and that number is likely to increase in the next day or two,” she said.

Deardorff said one person was treated at the scene, but no more details about that injury were available. He also said one dog was rescued safely.

Thursday morning's fire was the second at. 608 S. Pershing Ave. in a little more more than eight hours. Firefighters responded to the house about 11:45 p.m. Wednesday after a fire was reported on the back porch and put it out.

“At this point, it appears it’s two separate, coincidental incidents,” Deardorff said. 

There were multiple apartments in the house, he said.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.  

The second fire started in a front room on the first floor in the house, Deardorff said.

“We had a well-advanced fire on our hands,” the fire chief said. “Crews immediately went into a search mode. We found a victim on the second floor in the rear (of the home).”

Billet, 28, was at work when the fire broke out. He quickly rushed home to make sure his fiancée and 4-month-old son got out safely.

“I told my boss, 'My house is burning down, I’ve got to go,’” Billet said. “He said, ‘go.’ I work on Roosevelt Avenue, so I wasn’t too far away. I got here pretty quickly and knew right away my fiancée and son were out.  I saw other people running out."

Billet said there were two chinchillas as well as several dogs and cats living in the house.

“The fire was burning, really going, for the first hour or so after I got here,” he said.

He said he had been living there about six months and knew Eaton, who was found in a second-floor rear bedroom.

Terry Hawkins, who lives two blocks away from the fatal fire, watched as firefighters worked to put down the blaze. 

“It’s a sad day anytime someone dies,” Hawkins said. “There have been a lot of fires lately that have killed people. They seem to be a lot harder to put out now for some reason.”

The Southern PA Incident Network said Thursday afternoon it is accepting items for the victims of the fire. The list includes clothes for a 3-to-6-month-old boy, size 3 diapers, adult large shirts (male and female), size 14 medium pants (female), male shoes 9½, female shoes 7½, younger child clothes, 6T shoes (girl) and size 10 shoes (child).

SPIN is working to confirm a drop-off spot for the items and will post the site on Facebook as soon as it is available.

— Ron Musselman can be reached at rmusselman@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @ronmusselman8.