Disabled man dies in Westside house fire

Neighbor says she tried to get into home to help, but couldn't


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A man died Wednesday morning in a house fire on the Westside, according to the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department.

Firefighters said the fire in a trailer on Coach Park Drive, west of Firestone Road, started in the back bedroom and spread. They said the fire was burning strong when they arrived and took about 20 minutes to put out. They said the man was found dead in a bathroom.

The man's name has not been released by officials, but the man's ex-wife said his name was Michael Cook.

Cook's neighbor, Terry Marie, said she lived next to him for years, and he was disabled and didn't get out much. She said she knew he was in the home when the fire broke out, and she tried to get in to help him but couldn't.

"I seen him just about every day. I heard something popping, and my brother was supposed to come over and help him do yard work, and that's what I thought it was," Marie said. "I woke up and saw the smoke coming out, so I ran, and there was fire coming out, smoke and fire. I tried to beat on the door and call his name, and the fire people came."

She said the entire home was in flames around 9:30 a.m.

“It was out of control by the time I got up -- out of control,” Marie said. “Any time somebody that you know passes that way, it's terrible.”

Neighbors said that before firefighters got there, a man grabbed a 4x4 and broke a side door in and Cook's dog, Patches, ran out. Cook had adopted Patches two weeks ago from First Coast No More Homeless Pets.

Michael Cook’s ex-wife, Helen Cook, who lives nearby, said she was happy to see the dog was OK.

“This is Mike's dog, and I love him. I'm going to take care of him,” Helen Cook said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.