WAYCROSS, Ga. - A 12-year veteran of the Waycross Fire Department died Sunday morning after becoming trapped while battling a house fire that investigators have ruled an arson.
Officials with the Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commission say Lt. Jeff Little was with others who responded just after midnight to a house on fire on Isabella Street.
At one point, Little became trapped inside the burning home. Other firefighters managed to pull him out of the home and administer CPR. Little was transported to the Mayo Clinic Health System in Waycross, where he was pronounced dead.
Commissioner Ralph Hudgens sent condolences out to Little's family.
Allen says the home had been vacant for a long time and didn't have electricity or utilities hooked up. The fire was ruled an arson.
Channel 4 spoke with Randy Wyse, President of the Jacksonville Association of Firefighters.
Wyse said his prayers are with the Waycross Fire Department and learning that investigators have ruled the fire arson makes the news even more difficult to stomach.
"To lose a brother like that is tough. I'm sure they're in shock and just probably trying to figure out, what's the next step?"
"At the initial stages, you know you're trying to gain all the information that you can and you wonder if there's people inside so you're obviously searching, so there's so many things going through your mind, and if you know its an arson then it gets a little worse," Wyse said.
"Especially when you have a death related to that, that's murder."
Under Georgia law, Little's death will be investigated as a homicide.
The state is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to an arrest. Anyone one with information can call the Georgia Arson Hotline at 800-282-5804.
A viewing for Little will be held from 5-9 p.m. Tuesday at First Baptist Church of Waycross, located at 201 Ava St.
Little's memorial service is set for 2 p.m. Wednesday at the church. Little will be buried in private ceremony in Alabama on Friday.
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