Man Escapes Fire, Dies After Returning for Phone

After escaping an early-morning house fire, a Plano man was killed Thursday when he went back in the burning house for his mobile phone, officials say.

Fire officials said three adults, a woman and two men were at their home on Haggard Street when the fire started at about 1 a.m. They all were able to get out, but then the two men decided to go back to get their mobile phones to call 911.

One of the men, later identified as 72-year-old Rex Benson, was unable to get out of the house again and died. 

Firefighters got to the scene within minutes of the initial call, but were unable to rescue Benson.

"The home was fully engulfed in flames," said Plano Fire and Rescue spokeswoman Peggy Harrell. "A lot of smoke when our first crew arrived."

Officials said the other man was the Benson's roommate and the woman was his daughter.  Neighbors said Benson had lived in the area for years.

"Great guy, willing to help anyone who needed a hand; and to hear he made that big of a mistake and the loss of life because of something as simple as a cellphone seems sad," said neighbor Scott Kraus.

Harrell said it's very important never to go back inside a burning building.

"Nine people out of 10 that return back into a burning building don't make it out alive," said Harrell. "That's evident here and it's really tragic."

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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