VALLEY, Ala. — A Valley man is dead after police say he was caught in a mobile home that burst into flames early Friday morning.
A police report says 43-year-old Terence Dodson was found dead at the scene of the blaze in the the Hampton Trailer Park at 1240 County Road 271.
The report says officers, EMS, and the East Alabama Fire Department were called in just after 2:40 a.m. Major Mike Reynolds says by the time units made it to the trailer, it was already completely engulfed in flames.
Witnesses told first responders three people had managed to make it out of the fire, but one was still trapped inside. The report says firefighters who managed to make it through the flames found Dodson.
An investigation into the cause of the fire is underway. The report does not confirm the conditions of the other people who managed to survive. News 3 spoke with Dodson’s son Anzaivier Cochran, who was inside the house at the time of the fire. He managed to escape, but his family did not know he made it out of the house. As his father went back to rescue him, that’s when Dodson collapsed and died inside the home.
“The first thing I did was run to my parents’ room and say ‘Fire! Fire,” Cochran explained. “They assumed I was still in the house. I did the first thing I could just to get out the window.”
Cochran says the confusion during the fire caused him to feel a real sense of fear for the first time in his life.
“For the first time I felt completely scared. I didn’t know what to do,” Cochran said.
Cochran says faulty wiring could be to blame. But he wanted to let investigators decide exactly what started the fire.
“We’ve had a similar experience last year, but it was as small fire that was easily taken care of,” Cochran said.
Dodson was a mechanic. His son hoped to follow in his father’s footsteps.
“He’s a real individual, I’ll say that,” Cochran said. “He does stuff differently. He doesn’t do it by the book. He goes off-script. He meant a lot to me. He was basically my inspiration. He taught me how to be the person I am today.”
Dodson had heart surgery about a month ago. Cochran says his mother suffered severe burns to the face. She was flown to an Atlanta hospital. The trauma amid this tragedy could take a heavy toll. But family, friends and neighbors are helping the fire victims deal with loss one day at a time.
“My sister is emotionally wrecked,” Cochran said. “Overall, [he was] a real father figure.”
Cochran says the Valley community viewed his father as he did: a friend they could look up to.