Diana fire chief's brother dies in fire
BY PHILLIP WILLIAMS
DIANA — The brother of the fire chief in this rural Upshur County community died in a fire Saturday night at a camper where he was living next to his mother's home, county Fire Marshal Paul Steelman said.
Dewey Randal 'Randy' Hankins, 56, was found dead in the aluminum building on Hankins Road after firefighters extinguished the blaze, Steelman said. Diana Volunteer Fire Department Chief Kenny Hankins was among firefighters from Diana and Ore City who responded to the blaze, reported at 10:18 p.m. by the victim's mother, the fire marshal said. “Right now, I don't want to speculate on exactly what happened, but I will say the fire originated in the area where Mr. Hankins was in the camper, and due to health problems, he was not able to safely exit by himself,” Steelman said Sunday night.
Upshur County Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Rhonda Welch, who pronounced Hankins dead at the scene and ordered an autopsy, said a family member told her Hankins “called his mother on the phone saying, 'Fire! Fire!'” The woman then looked out a window and saw smoke, the judge said.
Dewey Hankins was alone in the camper, which is on a county road off Farm-to-Market 3245 in eastern Upshur County, Steelman said. The structure was fully involved in flames within moments after firefighters arrived, but the blaze was quickly extinguished, Steelman said.
Whether Hankins died of smoke inhalation will not be known until authorities receive results of the autopsy, which Judge Welch said was scheduled at the Southeast Texas Forensic Center near Tyler.