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Muncie man pushed fiancée out of attic window to safety before dying in fire

MUNCIE, Ind. – A man was killed in a Muncie house fire early Wednesday morning.

The fire broke out just after 6:30 a.m. in the 700 block of West Fifth Street.

Fire officials tell us a couple was sleeping in the attic at the time of the fire. The man pushed his fiancée out of a window, which ultimately saved her life. However, he did not make it out alive.

He was identified as Gary Smith, 33.

"I was inside and I heard the commotion of her being thrown out the window," said Travis Rice, who among those who escaped the fire. "She was coming back in the house as I came out of my bedroom and she said house is on fire and Gary is still upstairs. I went for the attic door."

Firefighters arrived but they were unable to save Smith.

Rice said he thinks of his friend as a hero for acting quickly and saving lives.

"He loved her," Rice said of Smith saving his fiancée. "It’s what he felt to do. I wonder why he didn’t come out right behind her."

There were at least nine other people in the house at the time of the fire, including three children.

The Muncie chief fire investigator said they found space heaters and ashtrays filled with cigarettes inside the house. Investigators said the fire was caused by a heat lamp and clothing being stored too close to it.

"It’s a very sad time," said Robert Mead, the chief fire investigator. "The circumstances around what transpired here, most I don’t know yet.  But hopefully, I can give them closure."