MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

May 10, 2012

Two dead in Boynton fire

Son dies trying to rescue mother from blaze

BOYNTON — A son trying to rescue his blind mother from their burning home died lying next to her, officials said.

Clarence Crane, 57, and Mary Jane Love, 83, died in their Boynton home early Wednesday morning.

When firefighters arrived at the house at Fifth and Eugene streets about 7:15 a.m., it was fully engulfed and the occupants unreachable, said Boynton Volunteer Fire Department Chief Steve Allen. A school bus driver called 911 after she saw smoke from the home while on her bus route about 7:10 a.m., he said.

“We think it probably started between 5:30 and 5:40 a.m.,” Allen said. “There was just nothing we could do for them when we got here. We tried to get inside, but the heat was too intense.”

Witness accounts and evidence at the home told firefighters Crane went outside at least once after the fire started and tried to put it out with a water hose, he said.

Crane then re-entered the house and tried to get Love out, but both were overcome by smoke and died before they could escape, Allen said.

Crane worked with Boynton’s water department, reading meters and helping fix leaks, said Mayor Jim Holt.

“He was just a good man. He fixed his mother breakfast every morning and went home every day to fix her lunch — just a good man,” Holt said.

The town is working to get a trust fund opened at a bank to collect donations to help Crane and Love’s family with funeral expenses, he said. A benefit is being organized as well.

The Muskogee County Sheriff’s Department was on hand to assist the Boynton Police Department and State Fire Marshal with the investigation into the fire.

Sheriff Charles Pearson said Crane and Love were having electrical problems and had reportedly called for an electrician to come out and work on a light switch.

“It just appears to be a sad accident,” Pearson said. “These folks have been a big part of this community all their lives.”

By early afternoon, the flames were out, but the house was still hot and smoking — too dangerous to recover Crane and Love.

District 3 County Commissioner Dexter Payne was called to bring in heavy equipment to pull the remaining walls down so the fire could be snuffed completely, Pearson said.

Allen said the age of the home contributed to the rapid spread of the fire.

The home had many layers of roofing, and layers of wood, shingles and vinyl siding, he said.

“Once the fire spreads into the walls and up in to the attic, as it had when we got here, it’s just too late,” he said.

As firefighters worked to tamp the blaze, many people stood nearby talking, hugging and some crying.

At the only store in town, people streamed in to hug one another and talk about the loss.

Though none wished to be identified, several said Crane and Love will be sorely missed by the people of Boynton.

One woman said, “I believe Clarence would have chosen to go with Mary, God bless them both.”

Reach Wendy Burton at (918) 684-2926 or wburton@muskogeephoenix.com.

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