Man dies in house fire while trying to save family

By Evan Johnson - email

SPRINGFIELD, GA (WTOC) - A family is mourning the loss of a loved one after a fatal house fire.  Officials have confirmed the person found dead inside a burning home located in the 600 block of Ingram Street is William Roper. Investigators are still trying to determine the exact cause of Roper's death.

"Seventy-one-years-old. He was a hard-working man all his life and a good father," says son Derrick Roper.

Grandson Kelly Thomas says, "I'd call him every morning about 6 a.m. or 7 a.m. and he would answer the phone, 'Go ahead kelly'. He has a caller ID and that's his favorite word, 'Go ahead Kelly. Talk to me.'"

The house fire happened around 7:30 p.m. Monday night just off Ardmore-Oaky Road.

Roper's wife was able to escape the flames, along with their five grandchildren. Eight-year-old Shawn Roper is one of the survivors.

"He was trying to put the fire out and he was looking for us, but he didn't know we were outside," Shawn Roper told WTOC.

The 71-year-old was seen going into the home with a garden hose trying to put out the flames to make sure all of the children were safe. It was Roper, however, who was not able to escape the fire.

"He went down with a fight. He tried. He made sure everybody was out. He made sure of that," said Derrick Roper.

Investigators have determined the fire was electrical and it has been ruled an accident. Meanwhile, no funeral arrangements have been made for Roper.

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