New details released in Deming Center fatal fire


TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – One person is dead after a late night fire.

Just before midnight on Thursday the Terre Haute Fire Department was called to the Deming Center, a low income housing facility located at 615 Cherry Street.

Michael Payne, a resident at the center, was startled by the fire alarm.

“You always wonder if it’s someone playing with the fire alarm or if something is actually wrong,” he said.

On Thursday night something was wrong, a fire had sparked in a room on the third floor of the building.

“You always worry about a fire, especially as busy as it can get around here,” said Payne.

His fears were confirmed; the fire claimed the life of a sixty-one year old male.

“It was a fire contained to one apartment. The fire basically burned itself out. There was one fatality in that apartment,” said Chief Jeff Fisher, with the Terre Haute Fire Department.

Vigo County Coroner, Doctor Susan Amos, tells News 10 that a cigarette may be partially to blame.

The preliminary report shows the victim may have been smoking in bed.

“Our investigation continues, to find out how exactly the fire started and how the victim passed away,” said Fisher.

As terrible as this tragedy is, officials say it could have been even worse.

“Anytime you have an apartment complex it can always be worse. If you can remember back to the Garfield Tower fire a few years ago, that was a really bad situation. It can always get worse, but the crews did a fantastic job,” said Fisher.

While no one else was injured Payne mourns the loss of his friend.

“He had been here 13 years, he was known by a lot of people here and a very good man,” said Payne.

Due to the holiday an autopsy is scheduled for Saturday.

Officials are not yet releasing the name of the victim. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you confirm your email address and acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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