UPDATE: Dade County man burned to death in field had medical condition
DADE COUNTY, GA (WRCB) -
UPDATE: The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has ruled that Michael Kordas died of a medical condition, which has not yet been specified.
PREVIOUS STORY: Dade County officials are looking into the death of a man found burned in a field. They say he was burning brush Monday night and it appears he was overcome with smoke inhalation. Responders were called to the field off Spring Lake Drive around 9 o'clock on Sand Mountain.
The Georgia Forestry Commission was brought in to investigate. At this point, officials are calling the incident a horrible accident.
"I know the old man was trying to clean off a place to put his home he was going to build up there," says neighbor Tommy Higdon.
Investigators say 65-year-old Michel Kordas was trying to clear brush from a plot of land when it appears the fire got out of control. Tommy Higdon's cousin found him lying on the ground unresponsive. Higdon called 911.
"He found him up there, laying there dead. It burned him up, the fire did," says Higdon.
Higdon and law enforcement say Kordas was from France and was looking forward to building a new life in America.
"He was wanting to get his wife and kid over here with him. He was really looking forward to getting his house built over there," says Higdon.
"This is the second time, in the past probably five years, we've actually had a fire fatality due to a forest fire in Dade County," says Chief Ranger Heath Morton.
Heath Morton is a Chief Ranger with the Georgia Forestry Commission. He and his crew were called in to help put the fire out.
"This is a very unfortunate deal here, that happened," He says. "From what we can tell, the guy was burning a few brush piles. And it looks like it escalated from that point to the tragedy that it is."
Morton says in Georgia, a burn permit is required for all controlled burns. His office is not issuing any right now due to dry conditions.
"They can spread quickly, as dry as we are."
Morton also wants the public to know, for a small fee, the Forestry Commission will assist land owners with burns.
"If the fire escapes, please don't try to suppress it yourself. We have paid professionals that do that. And that's what we're here for, is to help," says Morton.
In the meantime, Higdon is still in disbelief over what happened.
"I won't never forget it, that's for sure. I won't never forget it.," he says.
The accident is still under investigation. Korda's body is being sent off for an autopsy.
On top of getting a burn permit, forestry officials say before you get started make sure you have a rake, water hose and shovel handy. Be sure to clear a 25-foot area around the debris pile and never use flammable liquids to start a fire.