Deaf man dies after overnight apartment fire despite neighbors' efforts to save him

HOUSTON – One man is dead after an apartment fire in southwest Houston. 

According to authorities, the fire started around 11:30 p.m. at the Glen Willow Apartments on South Post Oak Road and Willowbend Boulevard.

The Houston Fire Department arrived to find heavy smoke coming from a second-floor unit. 

As they started working to get the fire under control, HFD said they got reports that a man was trapped inside the burning apartment.

After a search, firefighters found the man in the back bedroom closet of the apartment, authorities said.

The man was pulled out of the fire and was given CPR before he was flown to a nearby hospital where he later died of smoke inhalation.

According to neighbors, the man – known to them as Eddie – was deaf and used a hearing aid.

Neighbor DeAndre Gibbs told KPRC2 reporter Taisha Walker when he and another neighbor saw the flames coming from the apartment, they tried to break down the door to let the smoke out and attempt to extinguish the fire, but the smoke was too much for them.

“Me and him went straight upstairs," Gibbs said. "We had got fire extinguishers to put it out and stuff, but the fire just kept coming so we kicked the door in and we started breaking the window just to let some of the smoke come out. We both actually went inside the apartment, but the smoke was so overwhelming we couldn't see nothing so we had to come back out."

Gibbs said Eddie was well-liked and had a birthday coming up on Monday, but now instead of a party, a funeral will have to be planned.

"He was cool," Gibbs said. "He liked to have a good time. (He) joked around. Everybody looked out for him all the time, but you know, like I said, he was deaf so he had some challenges going against him and stuff like that. He really depended on a lot of people sometimes."

Another neighbor, Marlo Riddoux, said Eddie was beloved by neighbors and his death is "one of the greatest losses" for the area.

"He was really cool with everybody," Riddoux said. "He cracked jokes, he loved to dance, he loved to hang out with other people. He was like a real cool person."

Firefighters were able to get the fire under control and only that unit had fire damage. Three others, however, had smoke and water damage, according to HFD.

According to the HFD, preliminary investigations show the fire may have started in the kitchen.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation. 

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