MANATEE — A 68-year-old man died Tuesday night following a structure fire at his home in the 1400 block of 21st Avenue East, according to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.
Nathaniel Brown’s neighbor, Janie Rojas, called 911 around 9:45 p.m. after her husband saw black smoke coming from the roof of Brown’s home.
“When I called, his wife pulled up and said he was inside,” said Janie Rojas.
Rojas said her husband and brother wanted to go in the house and help, but were advised not to by the 911 dispatcher.
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The home was fully engulfed in flames when Southern Manatee Fire Rescue arrived, according to a sheriff’s news release.
Brown was found lying in the living room a few feet from the front door.
Brown suffered second- and third-degree burns and died while being airlifted to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg, the release stated.
Brown’s family and friends declined to comment Wednesday afternoon when they gathered in front of the home, many dressed in black.
His neighbors were also in mourning.
“They’re both really nice people. It’s just a tragedy,” Janie Rojas said.
The fire inspector and state fire marshal are still investigating what might have caused the fire, but it appears to have been accidental, according to the release.