A community is rallying together in prayer and support after a neighbor was found dead inside a burning home. Friday morning, Macon-Bibb fire crews found 74-year-old Willie Gross dead inside his home on Winston Drive. That's off Eisenhower Parkway and Pio Nono Avenue. Yvonne Thomas spoke to several neighbors who say they'll miss their friend who they called Mr. Willie.
Not knowing if anyone was home, Flavia Ringwood says she immediately called 911 when she saw smoke coming from the house next door. “It is a horrible, horrible feeling,” said Ringwood. “When I saw the smoke seeping under the windows, I knew at that point if someone was in there, they probably wasn't going to make it.”
And when Macon-Bibb fire crews arrived just after 7 a.m. and put out the blaze, they found 74-year-old Willie Gross dead inside. “When something like this happens, it touches us all, especially this surrounding neighborhood,” said neighbor Kenneth Robinson.
Jamarcus Scott says he's known the victim for years. “I've been his neighbor for ten years. He liked to talk. He was upbeat, and I really enjoyed just knowing Mr. Willie,” said Scott.
But the people who are taking this loss the hardest are Mr. Willie's children, so while crews collected evidence at the scene, the community started to pray with them. “It's really a shock to everyone. We just pray for the family and hope for the best,” said Robinson.
Many of these folks say they'll stand by them, and will continue to keep an eye out for each other.
Macon-Bibb Fire Inspector Steve Wesson says the cause of the fire or where it started is still under investigation. He says they are not expecting foul play. Deputy Coroner Lonnie Miley says an autopsy will be performed to learn Gross' cause of death.