UPDATE July 17, 2012, Tuesday, 5 p.m. -- The DeKalb County Medical Examiner's Chief Investigator, Pat Bailey, said the investigation into Ross Donis's cause of death is still not complete, but Bailey was able to release some information. Bailey said there was no sign of foul play. He said Donis was found near his recliner with an open Bible, and there was no sign he struggled. That would indicate that Donis died peacefully, of smoke inhalation, prior to the fire in his house breaking out of control, but Bailey was not ready to release an official cause of death, yet.
UPDATE July 17, 2012, Tuesday, 3 p.m.-- Deputy Chief Norman Augustin of the DeKalb County Fire Department said Tuesday afternoon that investigators were continuing to search for the cause of the house fire that killed Ross Donis.
Dep. Chief Augustin said it may be later this week before they are able to confirm the point of origin and the source of ignition.
DORAVILLE, Ga. (WXIA) (July 17, 2012, Tuesday, 1 a.m.) -- DeKalb County fire crews worked into early Tuesday morning putting out the last embers of a house fire that killed a U.S. Navy veteran who served in the Korean War.
The man who was killed was Ross Donis, 83.
The fire broke out in Donis's home at 4052 Eula Circle early Monday evening. Assistant Chief Robert Ham of the DeKalb County Fire Department said when the first units arrived a few minutes after receiving a 911 call, flames engulfed the house and, Ham believes, Donis had already died in the smoke and fire.
"The fire was so well advanced, that he was probably deceased by the time we received the call," Asst. Chief Ham said. "I've been doing this for quite a while, and it never gets easier having to see this sort of thing."
One of the witnesses was Barry Kanne, who said the fire was so big it began to spread to the house next door. Firefighters were able to limit damage to a section of siding and roof of the neighboring house.
Kanne shot video of the fire with his cell phone, which shows flames pouring out of the Donis house.
"It was pretty well involved by the time I got here," Kanne said, "and it got worse until firemen started putting water on it. But it was a fully involved [house fire], it was through the roof, coming out the windows, it was pretty much all flames. And all you could see were flames and smoke."
Donis's son, Tom Donis, told 11Alive News that he grew up in that house, his father built it in 1958 for his family and never moved away.
Donis had lived alone there since 1987 when he lost his wife.
"Mom died 25 years ago this past Friday," Tom said. "And Dad was going to turn 84 on August 31st."
Tom Donis said his father was active in the American Legion and loved being with his family: "He was a big family man. Everybody loved him. He loved nothing more than to be with his grandchildren and great grandchildren."
Ross Donis leaves his son, Tom, four grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.
No cause of the fire had been determined as of late Monday night. The DeKalb County Fire Department and Doraville Police are investigating.