An elderly Montgomery County man died Tuesday afternoon while burning brush near the town of Sennett, north of Red Oak. Firefighters were called on a report of a brush fire and Red Oak Fire Chief Rick Askey says a passerby thought they’d seen someone in the fire. When the department’s front-line squad arrived they found a man dead in the ditch, and fire spreading into adjoining property. They later identified the man as 78-year-old Newell Laire of Red Oak. The department determined the man had been burning rubbish, and they’re fairly sure he’d used gas or some other kind of flammable liquid to start the fire. They think while dousing the trash, he got some of the gas on himself. He says they believe Laire lit the brush fire and stood back, it looks like he noticed the fire starting to spread and tried to go and put it out…but that’s when his clothing caught fire. Chief Askey says the man had been there only fifteen or twenty minutes before the fire department was called, but he was dead when they arrived.
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