UPDATE House fire kills one man in Harlan County

A house fire before dawn on Saturday in Harlan County killed one man in his sleep.

Neighbors of the man living in the home say his live Christmas tree probably caused the flames.

Now all that remains are brick walls, smoke, and burned appliances.

"The flames were extinguished, and they found the remains of a human inside," said Sergeant Joel Woods with Kentucky State Police in Harlan.

Neighbors and friends of the man who lived in the burned home say 84-year-old Ernest Hight died in the fire.

"He was anybody's friend. Anybody that needed help with anything, we would help them. He always had a big heart," said Bill Miller, who is a friend of Hight.

Miller says he took care of Hight, who was wheelchair bound, and visited him on a daily basis.

The flames were too big, and Hight never made it out of his bed.

"The house was engulfed in flames when I got the call. Firefighters were already here fighting it," said Miller.

"Because of the heat involved, it took awhile for it to cool down enough to completely process that scene which is probably why the cause of the fire hadn't been determined yet," said Sergeant Woods.

Those who knew Hight say it was not arson because no one would want to hurt him.

The neighbor who called 911 says he built the home and thinks the fire started in the living room.

"All indications show the Christmas tree started it. He loved Christmas. That was his favorite time of year," said Miller.

Now, Christmas will not be the same this year for folks on Tremont Hill.

Investigators have not yet determined the official cause of the fire.


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