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Manatee man killed in house fire

MANATEE — Neighbors of a Manatee man killed in house fire early this morning say they tried everything they could to get him out before flames pushed them back.

West Manatee Fire Rescue Capt. Tom Sousa said at 2:30 a.m. this morning firefighters arrived to find a house at 812 36th St. W. engulfed in flames.

Inside they found William Loran Yoakum II, 43, dead on the kitchen floor three feet from his back door. Fire officials said he most likely died from smoke inhalation. Yoakum, who neighbors said was disabled and used a walker, lived alone in the house, according to sheriff’s reports.

Jessica Runck said she called 911 after her mother first spotted the fire across the street and woke her up.

“She was screaming, ‘Fire, there’s a fire.’ I called 911 and my mother and husband and ran to try to help,” said Runck.

Rendy Zola and Clint Runck tried to make contact with Yoakum. Runck sprayed the fire with a hose he found in the front yard, while Zola grabbed one of Yoakum’s walkers on the front porch and used it to bang on the door.

As the flames overtook the home’s roof and firefighters arrived, Runck and Zola were told to move back from the blaze.

“I just wish we could have gotten him out,” said Zola. “It is just terrible.”

Firefighters later found Yoakum dead in the home as they battled the blaze, Sousa said.

Sousa said 26 firefighters from West Manatee and the Bradenton Fire Department battled the fire, which is now being investigated by state and West Manatee fire marshals, as well as the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.

The cause of the fire was still under investigation, but there is nothing suspicious about the blaze in preliminary findings, Sousa said.