By Patrick Yost Editor

A 70–year–old Rutledge man died tragically in a house fire last Saturday. According to Morgan County Sheriff’s Office reports, Samuel Eugene Cooper died after his Reese Road house caught fire and burned.

Morgan County Fire Chief Mark Melvin said Morgan County Dispatch was alerted by Cooper’s neighbor that the house was on fire at approximately 4 a.m. Melvin said when fire fighters arrived roughly 15 minutes later the house was “fully involved.”

Melvin said after Cooper’s body was discovered Morgan County authorities called the Georgia State Fire Marshall to the scene to investigate the fire. According to Capt. Chris Bish, criminal investigations division, Morgan County Sheriff’s Office, investigators do not suspect foul play contributed to Cooper’s death.

“There is absolutely nothing indicating fouled play,” Bish said. Bish said Cooper was located in a room with a stand–alone wood burning heater. Bish said authorities are waiting on autopsy reports to finalize the investigation into the death.

“The autopsy will definitely help us.” Melvin said the house was a complete loss and when fire fighters arrived the roof had already collapsed. He also said cause of the fire was undetermined and, based on the heat and damage, cause was “going to be a challenge to tell.”

“We have no idea what started the fire,” Melvin said. Cooper’s body was located by fire fighters in the kitchen area of the single–story brick house. Bish said a preliminary investigation showed that Cooper utilized the wood burning stove consistently for heat but that investigators did not know if the stove caused the fire.