Southern Utah man dies after rushing into burning home to rescue neighbors

Posted at 7:02 PM, Dec 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-08 16:14:51-05
A deadly fire in Washington City on December 5, 2016. Image courtesy Brad Jensen/St. George News.

A deadly fire in Washington City on December 5, 2016. Image courtesy Brad Jensen/St. George News.

WASHINGTON CITY, Utah — A 60-year-old man suffered fatal injuries in southern Utah Monday night after he rushed into a burning residence in an attempt to rescue a woman and her child after spotting the blaze in his neighbor’s home.

According to the Washington City Police Department, the fire broke out around 7 p.m. Monday at a single family home near 400 East Angie Lane.

First responders found the home fully engulfed in fire, and they were told there were still people inside. Crews entered and retrieved three victims from the interior, a 60-year-old man, a 27-year-old woman and a 3-year-old child.

The young child was flown to a hospital while both adults were transported by ground. The 60-year-old man was pronounced dead at a hospital. The woman and child suffered life-threatening injuries.

The girl later died of her injuries Tuesday afternoon at a hospital in Las Vegas.

Richard Kirkland. Image via GoFundMe.

Richard Kirkland. Image via GoFundMe.

St. George News reports family has identified the deceased man as Richard Kirkland. Kirkland was on his way home Monday when he saw the mobile home on fire. The man kicked in the door of the burning home and ran inside in an effort to rescue his neighbors, family members said.

Neighbors tried to suppress the fire using garden hoses.

“We tried so hard to get the fire out,” Debbie Jones told St. George News, adding: “It went fast.”

Loved ones have created a GoFundMe page to support Kirkland’s family in the wake of the tragedy. 

“Richard was a man who had his many ups and downs, but he always remained a very selfless man who especially loved children,” an update on the GoFundMe page states. “Many young children called him their Grandpa. He holds a special place in the heart of every person he knew, especially his family members. He died doing exactly what he was known for: helping others without expectation. He was a kind and gentle man who never asked for thanks.”

Visit St. George News for more on this story and for videos and photos from the scene.