Harris County man on oxygen catches on fire from cigarette

By Lindsey Connell - bio | e-mail

HARRIS COUNTY, GA (WTVM) -  Seventy-four-year-old Lum Meares lived alone on Cherry Drive in the Melody Lakes community. Last night, he was using a home oxygen tank when he lit a cigarette causing his body to go up in flames. What happened next has scarred neighbors who tried to save his life

"He was on fire. His chair was on fire. It looked like someone barbecued him. It was horrible. It was real horrible."

It's a story that will send chills down your spine. Hearing Meares' smoke alarming blaring last night, neighbors ran to his house and found the elderly man engulfed in flames.

One neighbor we spoke to did not want to be identified today but told us how she rushed to get water to dump on Meares burning body.

"I tried to get him out. He finally got out and leaned back in his chair. I was screaming at him, 'Mr. Lum, Mr. Lum please breathe; do something.' When I went to go get some air and came back in, he was dead. There was nothing else I could do. I never want to see anything like that ever again. I really don't,' the neighbor revealed.

It's a tragedy that strikes a community already in mourning after the brutal murder of Jerry and Sherlene Church a few months ago right down the street from Meares home.

"It hits the neighborhood hard. I knew the guy personally and I knew his wife but she passed away from cancer a few years back. It's right here in this one area where things have gone pretty bad," said Bill Waltman, Chief of the Melody Lakes Fire Department.

"A lot of folks are upset out here. He was well liked by a lot of people," said Ralph Stevens, a friend of Lum Meares.

The Harris County Coroner's office has ruled Meares' death accidental. His family is in the process of planning funeral arrangements.