Beloved church leader dies in house fire on Detroit's east side

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A Detroit church is mourning the loss of Sunday school Superintendent David Thomas, who was filled in a fire.

"It was very tragic, very much a shock for us to hear," said Rev. Brian Relford, Lomax Temple AME Zion Church.

The 64-year-old man was killed early Friday morning when his house caught on fire.  He lived on Danbury near Seven Mile and I-75 on Detroit's east side.

David's niece and nephew lived with him, but they were able to escape the flames by jumping out a second floor window.

David was found deceased in his upstairs bedroom.

"I know one thing about his last moments, he prayed," said Pamela Paulding, his niece. "He's going to heaven."

Investigators say the fire started in the kitchen. They believe it was accidental, it spread to the abandoned house next door.

Pauling said she can't believe her uncle is gone.

"He is the person that you see walking down the street," she said. "He was praying for people. He was a Godly man, he knew Jesus."

Thomas was a life-long member of Lomax Temple AME Zion church on Dequindre.

"David was a reliable person and he had the heart of one who liked to serve other people," said Relford.

David spent a lot of time volunteering for the church's food pantry, and in fact was there Thursday.

"He was a very humble person," Relford said. "David Thomas was not arrogant, prideful, very humble and liked to serve."