80-year-old Navy veteran dead after house fire

HOLTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — An elderly man died after a house fire south of Holton Tuesday.

The victim’s family identified him as Dave Proctor, an 80-year-old U.S. Navy veteran.

Crews fighting a fire at a home in the 6700 block of Swenson Road. (Feb. 3, 2015)
(Crews fighting the fire.)

Seven departments responded to the fire at a home in the 6700 block of Swenson Road around 4 p.m. The extent of the fire, which had spread to the roof by the time crews arrived, caused some difficulty for firefighters trying to douse it. They remained on scene for about five hours putting out hot spots.

The exact cause of Proctor’s death is not yet known. Family members said he was a survivor of lung cancer, but still had health problems and was on oxygen.

“This is totally unexpected. When something like this happens, it’s such a tragedy. I expected maybe Dave’s health would take him but to be taken like this is totally unexpected,” Proctor’s stepson Edward Duke said.

Family members said the daughter of the Proctor’s girlfriend left the house for about 45 minutes Tuesday afternoon to get medicine for him. When she returned, the house was on fire. She discovered Proctor already dead in the home’s living room.

“He had tried to make it to the door, I guess,” said Duke. “I guess he made it to the door. He had a long oxygen line and he was laying on the floor just inside the door. And she opened the door and pulled him out on the deck and tried to give him CPR, but he was already gone.”

The daughter was too emotional to speak on camera, but told 24 Hour News 8 she did everything she could to save Proctor.

Proctor loved the outdoors, his stepson told 24 Hour News 8.

“I thank God for the memories with Dave and the family,” Duke said. “Going to miss him a lot.”

Family members said they think a wood stove in the basement may have started the blaze, but the official cause remains under investigation.

The house is a total loss. The Red Cross is helping Proctor’s girlfriend and her daughter.

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