BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) – An 83-year-old Battle Creek man died after a candle flames spread to his bed and clothes, authorities say.
Emergency responders were called to a home on S. 27th Street, not far from W.K. Kellogg Airport, around 11 a.m. Thursday, according to a release from the Battle Creek Police Department.
Inside, they found evidence of a fire and Louis Ryason’s body.
Neighbors say there was a power outage in the area Wednesday night. Fire officials say Ryason lit a candle when it became dark.
“The victim fell asleep with the candle lit,” Battle Creek fire inspector Lt. Quincy Jones said.
That candle started the fire that killed Ryason, he said. The bedspread, mattress and his clothes caught fire.
“The deceased was found in the bathroom,” Jones said. “It appears he was awoken by the fire and he was trying to extinguish himself.”
The water in the bathroom sink was running when Ryason was discovered. He had severe burns on his torso, officials said.
Neighbors didn’t notice the fire. Police only went to the house because a friend had tried and failed to contact the victim. When no one answered Ryason’s door, a neighbor called 911. By the time officers arrived, the fire had extinguished itself, leaving no evidence outside.
“It appears that it burned itself out,” Jones said. “As to when this fire actually took place and how long it burned for, we don’t have that information.”
Melissa Golyar, a longtime friend of Ryason, said she called him Uncle Louis and had known him all her life.
“He’s never been married, never had any kids, so we kind of adopted him,” she said.
Golyar said that at age 83, her adopted uncle was in excellent physical health:
“He walked better than I do on Sundays. He was a tough old guy,” she said. “He’s just a wonderful guy. Anything you needed, he would do for you.”
Golyar volunteered to bury Ryason’s cat, which also died in fire.
An autopsy has been scheduled.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Battle Creek Police Department at 269.781.0911 or the Battle Creek Fire Department at 269.996.3519.