A 43-year-old man who went back into the flames of his burning trailer home to save his beloved pet dachshunds has died of injuries sustained in the futile rescue effort, his family said Sunday.
Marvin Jerry Chapman, called Jerry, suffered critical burns Friday when a fire broke out in the Ravenswood Estates mobile home he shared with his wife, Doris, according to Chapman's mother, Linda Brown.
"They loved those dogs," Brown said of the dachshunds, Princess and Peanut.
Chapman, a construction worker, died Saturday afternoon at Jackson Memorial Hospital, the same hospital where he was born, said Brown, 64, who was with him.
The fire in the home in the 5200 block of Southwest 22nd Terrace broke out about 7 p.m. Friday, according to Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue.
Taken to Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood in very critical condition, the victim was subsequently transferred by helicopter to the Burn Center at Jackson, said Fire Rescue spokesman Mike Jachles. Police had not confirmed the name of the victim Sunday night.
According to relatives, Chapman suffered burns on his upper body and his feet, but was conscious and able to walk to the ambulance when paramedics arrived.
Neighbors heard Chapman yell "Fire," and several people called 911, said Paul Miller, 62, who lives behind the Chapmans. As flames grew higher, Miller said he got a garden hose and began spraying an endangered home next to the burning trailer.
Doris Chapman was at work at a nearby retail outlet when the fire started, according to her mother, Betty Wood.
Two young men from a block away may have helped Chapman escape the flames initially, relatives said, but he went back inside to find the dogs.
"He was able to get one dog in the rear of the trailer, break a window and throw that dog out," said Jachles.
But that dog, 4-year-old Peanut, apparently ran back into the home, said Robert Chapman, 34, Jerry's brother.
The body of 10-year-old Princess was found under a bed, Robert Chapman said. Peanut has not been recovered.
Jachles said the home was fully engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived.
On Sunday afternoon, several relatives trod carefully through the charred ruins to salvage what they could. Among the items relatively undamaged they said, were boxes containing some 30,000 lights which the couple put up on the house and in the small yard each Christmas.
"My daughter is devastated," said Wood. "In an instant she lost everything, her husband, her dogs, her home.
"Jerry used to say, 'We don't have much, but this is our little circle right here.' He risked his life for his babies, and now it's all gone."
Jachles said the blaze is under investigation by the Broward Sheriff's fire marshal bureau and the state fire marshal.
Staff writer Brett Clarkson contributed to this report.