LORAIN — When he heard his friend’s home was on fire about 3:25 a.m. Sunday, Terry Welser said he dressed quickly and ran half a block from his home to 418 Kentucky Ave., where emergency responders were trying to save Lonnie Mullett Jr.
Firefighters and paramedics spent about 20 minutes performing CPR on the 39-year-old Mullett in the bed of his pickup and on the ground, said Assistant Fire Chief Dennis Livchak. However, their efforts were in vain.
Mullett, who had no pulse or vital signs when removed from the home, died of smoke inhalation and burns, said Dr. Stephen Evans, Lorain County coroner.
“I loved that man dearly,” Welser said Sunday evening as he wiped away tears. “It’s a terrible thing.”
Livchak said Mullett is believed to have left food cooking on his electric stove and then fallen asleep on the first floor of the two-story woodframe duplex. Livchak said Mullett was found lying by a recliner in a small room near the living room and dining room.
Livchak said Mullett may have briefly woken up before being overcome by smoke. Firefighters were called to the scene at 3:23 a.m. and arrived at 3:28 a.m. to find flames coming from the kitchen windows and on the second floor in the rear of the home.
The fire — which caused about $40,000 in structural damage and $5,000 to belongings — was controlled in the kitchen at 3:34 a.m. Mullett was removed from the home at 3:41 a.m. Livchak said firefighters got to Mullett fast, but, “the fire had a pretty good head start.”
The 2,291-square-foot duplex, which had a total market value of $67,160, is owned by Eric and Jeffrey Framm, according to the Lorain County auditor’s website. Eric Framm wouldn’t comment Sunday evening.
Welser, 51, said he had known Mullett, a house painter, for 30 years. Welser said Mullett’s father wasn’t part of his life and Mullett looked up to Welser as a father figure and sometimes called him “Dad.”
Welser said Mullett, a father of three, was a good man. Mullett had lived in the duplex for several months and was laid off from his job in January, Welser said.
Rae Coleman, Welser’s girlfriend, said she knew Mullett for about 20 years. Coleman said he was usually upbeat and liked to do impressions to entertain friends.
“He’d make you laugh until you cried,” she said. “We used to tell him all the time that he should’ve been a comedian.”
Welser said his heart goes out to Mullett’s family. Welser said he wished he’d been with Mullett to prevent the fire from occurring.
“It’s a tragedy,” he said. “He wasn’t a bad guy. He just made a bad decision.”