ZACHARY, LA (WAFB) - Smoke inhalation is an initial indication of what investigators believe killed an elderly man overnight after his home burst into flames.
Family members and friends are remembering the man they've lost, George Matthews Jr., 64, of Zachary.
Smoke still rose from the charred debris late Wednesday morning. That charred pile of rubble was all that's left of the place Matthews called home. It was a little shed set up just for him in his brother's backyard.
"Someone was in the shed and we all know it was him," said Javona Sanchez, the victim's niece. "No one else comes back here. It was him."
The site of the fire is tough to see for his family and friends. "Bear," as they called him, is now being remembered as a good man. He was someone the close-knit community knew well.
"We loved him and his family," said Sharon McKnight, a neighbor and friend. "We all were raised right here together and it is very, very hard for us here in the neighborhood."
"It was just the scenery of seeing all the fire departments in here and it gave you that heart-wrenching feeling that something else was going on," Sanchez added.
The Louisiana Office of State Fire Marshal is helping the Zachary Fire Department figure out what was going on in the structure and caused the fire. All that is known as of now is that it started on a bed, which is now covered in soot.
It is the last thing those who knew and loved Matthews will see.
"He always said he could count on me and I could count on him because he was going to let me know exactly what was happening here in this neighborhood and this is a lost for all of us," McKnight explained.
Family members told investigators Matthews was known to smoke in the shed. While the cause of the fire is still undetermined, investigators are looking into that as a possibility.
Investigators have ruled out any suspicious circumstances.