Autopsy reveals man died of smoke inhalation in bizarre trailer fire

Bear and Lance had been together for 14 years / Ashley Knight

Preliminary autopsy results say 53-year-old Harry Milton Bear died of smoke inhalation after a fire broke out in his travel trailer in the 2600 block of Oakview Street.

Dougherty County Police are not sure when the fire began. They received a call from Bear's common-law wife, Karen Lance, requesting a welfare check after they had not seen Bear for a few days.

Police believe an extension cord overheated and started a fire that quickly filled the trailer, and then, due to lack of oxygen, extinguished itself.

"The fire traveled up one wall, across the ceiling and partially down the other," says Captain Jimmy Sexton with the Dougherty County Police Department.

"A loving man, he helped me raise three kids and he was an excellent father," says Lance, who was with Bear for 14 years.

The family had not seen Bear for a few days when Lance's mother noticed water coming from underneath the trailer Monday. They got suspicious and called police.

Lance says the trailer was a kind of man-cave for Bear, a place he could retreat to if they were fighting. So she says it wasn't unusual for him to disappear for a few days.

The family says they've had an outpouring of love from the community, but are still trying to find a way to pay for funeral costs after what appears to have been a preventable death.

"You gotta find the strength deep inside you to keep going," says Lance.