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Man killed, 90-year-old mother injured in Sebastian house fire

Grace Follett and her son, Charlie Follett, 60, were in the home when the fire started on May 15
Man killed in house fire that injured his 90-year-old mother in Sebastian on May 15, 2023.png
Posted at 7:55 PM, May 19, 2023

SEBASTIAN, Fla. — A family is grieving the loss of their loved one after a fire ripped through a home in Sebastian, killing one man and injuring his 90-year-old mother.

Sebastian Police said on May 15 around 11 p.m., officers responded to the home on Dolphin Avenue and saw it was completely engulfed in flames.

Police said when officers arrived, Cpl. Richie Revis kicked open the front door and found an unresponsive elderly female lying on the floor.

Cpl. Revis pulled the woman from the burning home to safety, and found out there was another person inside the home.

Police said officers tried going into the home via multiple different entrances but because of the flames weren't able to go further into the house.

Indian River County Fire Rescue responded to the scene and transported the female victim to a hospital, where she is recovering from her injuries.

Unfortunately, after the fire was extinguished, police said they searched the home and crews found a male resident had died in a bedroom.

Friends and neighbors said the two people were 90-year-old Grace Follett and her 60-year-old son, Charlie Follett.

A close friend, Ron McCullough, told WPTV Charlie and Grace Follett lived their with their dog, and that the dog likely didn't make it out either. He also said Grace Follett was flown to a burn unit in Miami.

“She was lucky to get out of here, wasn’t she? She was lucky," said McCullough.

McCullough said Charlie Follett was a great chef, and incredibly intelligent. He also said he was a great friend to him and to others, and would be extremely missed.

"He was a good guy. All his friends, me, we really hate it [that he was killed]," said McCullough.

The fire is one of several devastating structure fires to hit the Treasure Coast this year.

According to Indian River County Fire Rescue, since 2022 there have been 21 structure fires in the county, resulting in one fatality.

In St Lucie County, there were 102 structure fires, resulting in three fataliies.

In Martin County, there were 285 structure fires, resulting in zero fatalities.

"I'd say the top causes of fires in Martin County, and in home fires specifically, are cooking, electrical fires, as well as open flames, smoking, even heaters, those are all major concerns," said the Martin County Fire Rescue Community Relations Liaison Cory Pippin.

According to the National Fire Prevention Agency, that rings true across the State. The top five causes of house fires are, in this order:

  1. Cooking
  2. Heaters
  3. Electrical
  4. Smoking
  5. Candles

Indian River County Fire Rescue's Bureau Chief Bill Herrington said the Dolphin Avenue fire is still under investigation.
However, fire officials across all three counties urged people to be prepared.

"It takes less than 30 seconds for a small flame to turn into a major flame, and then a fire, and then your house can be engulfed in flames in minutes," Pippin said.

Some ways you can prepare yourself and your family include:

  • Making sure you have working smoke detectors
  • Have an evacuation route planned
  • Plan a spot for the family to meet once you do evacuate
  • Make sure all exits are not blocked
  • Remember to Stop, Drop and Roll
  • If you are in the home with flames and heavy smoke, drop to the floor and crawl to avoid the heavy smoke, which can be just as dangerous as flames.

"It could be pitch black in your house and you wont even be able to see," said Pippin.
For more information on fire prevention, click here.