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Polk Fire Rescue captain resigns amid controversy surrounding fire that killed 76-year-old woman

Posted at 4:49 PM, Feb 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-12 12:07:45-04

BARTOW, Fla. —A Polk County Fire captain has resigned after being on desk duty following controversy surrounding a fatal fire back in November.

Loretta Pickard, a 76-year-old woman, called 911 for help when she noticed smoke in her home.

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But, after 20 minutes she eventually succumbed to the house fire even though fire crews were outside her home for at least eight minutes before she died.

After it was discovered James Williams, one of the captains on scene at the Pickard fire, snapchatted the house fire and sent it via social media, the family decided to start looking into the death.

So far, it’s been uncovered that multiple policies were broken.

Now, Polk County Commissioners are in search of an outside firm to investigate the allegation.

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Until that investigation is over, Williams was to remain on administrative assignment. On Tuesday, March 12, ABC Action News learned he had resigned.

“If he would have just apologized and told us he was sorry, and said he made a mistake, then this would have never happened,” Linda Weckle, Loretta Pickard’s sister said.

Polk County Fire Rescue insists all efforts were made to save Pickard.

Williams was originally suspended for a 24 hour shift after admitting to snapchatting the deadly fire.