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W.Va. man dies in trailer fire

February 26, 2001

W.Va. man dies in trailer fire



By BOB PARTLOW / Staff Writer, Martinsburg


FALLING WATERS, W.Va. - A 77-year-old Falling Waters man who was a decorated World War II war veteran died Monday morning in a fire at his mobile home.

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Henry William Gorman, of 917 Emerson Drive, was found by neighbor Warren Leigh, who noticed smoke coming from Gorman's mobile home about mid-morning.

"I went over there and opened the door and tried to pull him out, but it was too full of smoke to do anything," Leigh said. "The smoke was so bad I shut the door real quick because I didn't want it to explode because it got more oxygen. If there hadn't have been so much smoke, I might have been able to get him out of there."

Firefighters pulled Gorman from the mobile home when they arrived, Robert Robinson, chief of the Bedington (W.Va.) Volunteer Fire Department said.

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"When we went in the front door, he was lying right on the floor," Robinson said. "They started doing CPR on him before they left" for the hospital. He was pronounced dead at Washington County Hospital.

The mobile home was gutted inside and was a total loss, Robinson said.

Gorman had lived in the mobile home since 1976, said his daughter Dawn Cook, who lives nearby. He was living by himself with a cat and a dog. The cat perished in the fire. The dog survived.

Cook said her father had worked for many years on heavy equipment in Baltimore, mostly at Bethlehem Steel. He retired in 1984.

Cook said Gorman was most proud of his service in World War II. He fought for four years in the U.S. Army in the South Pacific with the rank of sergeant 1st class.

"He was a very highly decorated veteran and was very proud of his service," she said. "He made it to many of the reunions."

She did not know what medals her father had been awarded, but said he had five or six, including the Medal of Valor.

He also served for 25 years in the National Guard, she said.

The cause of the fire had not been determined Monday. A fire marshal was to visit the scene today, which is mandatory under state law when a fire claims a life.

Robinson said a preliminary investigation indicated the fire may have started in the back of the mobile home, near the furnace and bedroom.

"That's what it looks like right now," he said.

Firefighters battled the blaze for about 45 minutes, Robinson said. About 18 firefighters from Bedington; Hedgesville, W.Va.; and Engine 90 from the Berkeley County Office of Emergency Services responded.

Gorman was one of 13 children. He had two brothers, including a twin, and 10 sisters. Three of his sisters are still living.

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