Update: Fire rips through a home leaving one person dead. Investigators say Bryan Gregory, 65, died after his house caught fire around 6:30 AM at Christmas Lake Village in Santa Claus. His wife, Maureen, was able to get out, but suffered smoke inhalation and 1st degree burns. She was flown to a Louisville hospital where she's in stable condition as of Friday afternoon.
State Fire Marshals say the cause was accidental and it possibly started after a cigarette was dropped. Friends and family are remembering the man who they say had a heart of gold.
"He was my right hand man," says Brian Englert.
Bryan Gregory was always by his side at the American Legion Post, helping on cookouts, on projects.
"We were actually supposed to meet up this evening," Englert says. "The Sons for the Santa Claus Legion were going to give a scholarship to some kid from Heritage Hills High School this year."
But today, friends and family are helping each other through this tough time.
"It was definitely a shock," Englert says.
Fire fighters say Gregory died after his home on South Snowball Lane caught fire around 6:30 AM Friday. Authorities say the fire may have started from a dropped cigarette and it spread quickly. His wife, Maureen, was able to get out, but was injured. County Coroner Robert Fuller says Bryan's body was found a few feet from the back door.
"When I got there, obviously, the roof was completely burned up, caved in, still had some smoke rolling off," says Sgt. Philip Hensley of the Indiana State Police.
"I think when they opened the door to take her out, the oxygen fed the fire," says Santa Claus Vol. Fire Dept. Chief Max Meyer.
The Gregorys retired from Vincennes University Jasper campus, where they used to teach. Friends say they'll remember him for his sense of humor and camaraderie.
"He was the type of guy that, if you were down, he could make you laugh," Englert says. "That's the way he was."
As the signs of Gregory's legacy go up and the flags go down, Englert says they'll remember his heart of gold, his love of gardening, and all the times he was at their side.
"Everyone will miss him, that's for sure," he adds.
Fuller says an autopsy is scheduled for tomorrow morning.
Previous Story: The Santa Claus Fire Chief identifies the person killed in a house fire in Christmas Lake Village as Bryan Gregory.
Neighbors say Gregory is a recently retired professor At Vincennes University in Jasper. The person flown from the scene to an area hospital is his wife Maureen. Her condition is not yet available.
At least one person is dead following a morning house fire in Santa Claus, Indiana.
Crews are still on the scene, and few details are being released, but Indiana State Police confirm one person has died. The fire was called in around 6:30 at Christmas Lake Village.
Eyewitness News has a crew on the scene, and we will have more details as they become available.