13-year-old dies in Palmerdale house fire

PALMERDALE, Ala. (WIAT) — An early morning house fire has claimed the life of a 13-year-old boy, according to family members.

Eric Legar, Jr., known as E.J. by his family, was trapped inside his home when it caught fire just before 3:30 a.m. Thursday. His uncle, John Hones, said the fire spread quickly.

“They were 25 feet coming off the top of the house, 25 feet in the air. I mean, it was bad. It was really bad,” said Jones.

Palmerdale Fire responded to the 8800 block of East Railroad Street to a fire that engulfed a two-story wood frame structure, but there wasn’t time to wait. Eric’s father, Eric Legar Sr., and Jones ran inside to rescue him.

“I went in there with Eric trying to get E.J. and you couldn’t get him. We couldn’t even get to him,” said Jones.

Jones said the boy’s father did everything he could to save his son. Legar Sr. was taken to the hospital with injuries.

GoFundMe: A GoFundMe has been set up for the boy’s family. 

“Burnt his arms up pretty bad. I think he might have broke his arm. I think he fell down the steps. He was trying to save everybody,” explained Jones.

Legar was an 8th grader at Rudd Middle School where he played nose guard on the football team.

Assistant football coach Dustin Edgar said the coaches met with the team Thursday morning to tell them about what happened and give them an opportunity to process it in a safe place.

He said Legar was a leader by example this year for the team and someone he’ll never forget.

“Thats something that I’ll always remember about him, that’s something that will never leave me is that whenever the team really needed something that wasn’t always something glorified or got a lot of recognition for it, he was always there and he helped. He helped anytime we needed anything,” Edgar said.

Legar was also in the kindness club and part of an anti-bully campaign.

“From 11 to 14, that’s the most difficult age there is and it’s hard to stand up you know in front of your peers and maybe stand up sometimes to your peers and even your friends and be positive. So that’s really huge when you have a student who does that,” said Principal Susan Slaney at Rudd Middle School.

Slaney added that it’s been a difficult day for the students and the teachers there.

“All of the teachers really knew him as a kid who was always smiling, would speak to you and was concerned about even the adults having a good day,” said Slaney.

Family members tell CBS 42 the fire started in the upper portion of the house. An official cause of the fire has not been determined.

GoFundMe: A GoFundMe has been set up for the boy’s family. 

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