Two Dead After Vacant Home Catches Fire

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ROCKFORD (WIFR) – We now know the identities of the men killed in a house fire earlier this morning on Rockford’s southwest side.

The coroner’s office says 59-year-old Timothy Porter and 47-year-old David Caperson died from smoke inhalation and were believed to be homeless.

Crews quickly put out the fire at the two-story home in the 400 block of Knowlton Street just after midnight. Firefighters met a homeless man outside who said two people were still inside. They were found already dead inside the house. The man waiting outside has been treated for smoke inhalation. The home is considered a total loss.

“These are my best friends on the streets.”

Chuck Thom and Douglas Keeling look at the burned ruins left behind by a fire that killed two of their friends.

“I miss my friends now that they’re gone,” said Thom.

“That’s not the way to go. To go like this is heart wrenching. I don’t like seeing it. It breaks my heart,” said Keeling.

Thom and Keeling say the two men who died in this morning’s fire were in fact homeless and did something many other homeless folks in Rockford do, avoid help.

“I feel said for them because there are so many resources,” said former homeless man Terrence Labarbera.

“To hear that somebody unfortunately lost their life not accepting the help or trying to find something on their own. It’s heartbreaking,” said Chris Eldridge with the Rockford Rescue Mission.

Leader at the Rockford Rescue Mission say they also knew David Caperson and Timothy Porter. The mission tells us both were good people who simply fell on rough times. As fire investigators continue to piece together how the fire started, Chief Derek Bergsten says the incident only shows the need to do something about abandoned homes.

“We have a substantial amount of vacant housing stock and the number one thing especially with these individuals is that you’d like to get them some permanent housing so they’re not going from one vacant house to another," said Bergsten.

The Fire Department says in all 30 vacant properties burned down last year, 26 were homes but the last time someone died in a vacant home was more than four years ago.

The Winnebago County Coroner’s office says since the men were homeless, they are having a hard time finding family. If you think you can help, please call the coroner’s office at 815-319-4970.


ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Two people are dead after an overnight fire in an abandoned house in Rockford.

The Rockford Fire Department says It happened around midnight at 424 Knowlton Street on Rockford's southwest side; it's currently an abandoned home.

Authorities say when they got to the scene a homeless person said he had been sleeping inside the house, and that there were two people still inside. Once inside, firefighters found a 47-year old man dead on the second floor and another man who had died, who's believed to be about 60-years-old.

The names of the victims have not yet been released. The Winnebago County Coroner says an autopsy will be performed on both men later today.

The homeless man who escaped the fire was taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.


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