UPDATE 8:47 AM
Dauphin Island police confirm that the man who passed away on the beach fled there from one of the burning houses. Fire Chief Brad Cox said the man was suffering from a possible cardiac arrest when first responders arrived. It has not been confirmed what triggered the cardiac episode. A future autopsy will determine more details on the cause of death. The man’s identity has not been released.
UPDATE 6:25 AM
Fire Chief Cox says when they got the call about the fire they also got a call about a man nearby suffering from a possible cardiac arrest on the beach. He was treated on the scene but later died. We still don’t know if the victim’s condition was related to the fire or not.
It’s very early in the investigation but they haven’t ruled out arson. Cox says they don’t think it’s arson at this point but since this is an unusual circumstance, they have to investigate. Firefighters faced big issues with manpower and heat exhaustion. Cox says a few firefighters were treated on the scene for heat exhaustion and will be okay.
Cox adds this is the first house fire on the island in three years. It is the first large fire incident in five years. That was when the now fire chief was badly injured in a fire that destroyed a number of homes.
All four homes affect overnight have been completely destroyed. Pilings are all that’s left. Firefighters expect to be there for several hours keeping an eye on hot spots.
Fire Chief Brad Cox says this started at around midnight at Dauphin Island BBQ. The restaurant was a total loss but no injuries reported.
We’re also getting several pictures and videos in to WKRG showing multiple house fires around the west end of the island. Cox says four houses caught fire in the 2200 block of Sandpiper Street. He says there was “a fatality in the vicinity but it has not been determined if it was fire related.”
Cox says they don’t know the cause for either incident. Firefighters from Alabama Port, Bayou La Batre, Grand Bay and St. Elmo also came to the island to help.