OWENS CROSS ROADS, AL (WAFF) - The Madison County Sheriff's department has launched a criminal investigation into an Owens Cross Roads fire that killed a man.
Investigators said the fire ignited around 11:30 a.m. Thursday inside a house off the 300 block of Brockway Road.
Madison County Deputy Coroner David Young said the man that died was 81-year-old Herman Ray Salmon. A second man made it out of the house safely.
Fire Marshal Bobby Rollins said it will remain a criminal investigation until authorities find evidence to suggest otherwise.
Rollins said firefighters found the victim near the front of the house. He said there was little fire damage inside the house and an investigation into a cause is ongoing.
The second man inside the house received treatment in an ambulance at the scene. Authorities are not releasing what kind of relationship the man had with the victim. Investigators found no obvious signs of foul play but said nothing was ruled out at this time.
Rollins said the fire itself doesn't always lead to a fatality; many times it is smoke inhalation. "This house is a very well built house, so it kept a lot of the damage and the smoke inside the house," he said.
Salmon's death is the 20th fire-related death of 2014. That number is up substantially compared to last year, when fires killed six people in January 2013. Officials said a total of 71 people died in all of 2013 and 78 in 2012.
Remember, when breaking news happens, we break it first online, by email, and by text. If you want to receive our breaking news alerts by text, pull out your phone right now and text NEWS to 44848. Message and data rates may apply. You can text STOP at any time to cancel your subscription, text HELP for more information, or call 877-571-0774 for support.