News 12 at 11 o'clock / Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The name of the man found dead in Sunday's Courtesy Motel fire has been released.
Officials say 43-year-old Fredrick Neil Galloway died Sunday just before 7 p.m.
Galloway was found in the motel room in the back portion of the room, which was on fire. His body was sent to the GBI Augusta Lab and is scheduled to have an autopsy to determine the cause of death.
Fire investigators say they got to the scene only minutes after the call came in, but for Galloway, it was already too late, leaving people in neighboring rooms pretty shaken up.
"I'm scared to death, to be honest with you. If my boyfriend would not have been here, I would not be talking to y'all," said hotel guest Vonda Knight.
A scary thought from Knight, the woman who was staying in the room right above where the fire broke out.
"It's a wonder my floor didn't fall in. When he opened up the door, you could see the smoke coming up and people coming everywhere," she said.
A room that used to look like any normal hotel would with two beds, a nightstand and a couple lamps is now a mess of black char. Crime tape, a melted AC unit and a blackened chair are all you can see.
Fire officials say it didn't take long to put the fire out, but it did lots of damage.
"The fire was confined to the unit 104. We got one fatality. Anytime there's a death, it's really tragic," said Richmond County Fire Department Shift Commander Richard Burts.
The motel clerk told News 12 that Galloway got there on Jan. 1 and was supposed to check out Monday morning.
The other 23 guests in the motel checked out early.
"Everyone's been detoured over to the Quality Inn," Knight explained.
Even though now they have to move across the street, seeing what's left of the room makes other guests hold on to what's important.
"Slipped on my shoes, slipped on a sweater and grabbed pictures. That was it. Everything else was replaceable, I said, as long as everybody gets out safely," another motel guest said.
Investigators think the fire may have started at the front of the room, but they're still trying to figure out the exact cause.