Mercer man, his house are burned in separate fires

gkocher1@herald-leader.comNovember 7, 2012 

ROSE HILL — The State Fire Marshal's Office continues to investigate how a Mercer County man burned his clothes Tuesday night and later, in a separate case, how the man's house burned and displaced a family of seven.

Both fires happened on Johnson Road near the Rose Hill community about three miles west of Harrodsburg.

David Pinkston, 62, was listed in fair condition Wednesday at University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital in Lexington. He was flown there by helicopter after flames burned his legs, said his son, Chad Pinkston, 37.

It's unclear how David Pinkston's pants caught fire. The decorated Vietnam veteran had suffered depression, Chad Pinkston said Wednesday.

"My dad, he's been drinking and having mental issues," Chad Pinkston said.

Chad Pinkston said he extinguished the fire on one leg by throwing water onto it and then patted out the fire on the other leg. He called 911 and David Pinkston was moved to a place on Mackville Road about a mile from the house where a helicopter could land and pick him up for the flight to Lexington.

When the family returned to the house about 45 minutes to an hour later, the living room was on fire. Chad Pinkston tried to extinguish the blaze with a garden hose, but the fire got out of control and destroyed the two-story, two-chimney structure.

The four-bedroom house was made of log construction and had been in the family for generations. "My mom was raised here and my great-grandparents lived here before that," Chad Pinkston said.

Fire Marshal Bill Swope said that an investigator went to the scene Wednesday but was unable to sift through it and determine a cause because the house was still hot. The investigator will return Thursday.

David Pinkston did three tours in Vietnam and was awarded a Silver Star and three Purple Hearts, Chad Pinkston said. "He's a highly decorated soldier. The war stays on his mind all the time, and it just got to him," he said.

Judy Pinkston, wife of David, said she and other relatives will move temporarily to a house at Bright Leaf Golf Resort north of Harrodsburg. The other relatives include a daughter, Kelli, and her two children, Jordan, 17, and Kyra, 14, plus Chad's daughter, Kylee, 8.

Judy Pinkston said she hopes to eventually clear the site of the burned house and perhaps put a mobile home there.

Greg Kocher: (859) 231-3305. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety.

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