Life celebration set for Cedar Rapids man killed in fire

Memorial for Naquave Whitlock, 22, is Sunday

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The Gazette

A memorial and celebration of life service is scheduled for a Cedar Rapids man killed in a house fire that took place Tuesday morning.

The service for Naquave Whitlock takes place from 4-6:30 p.m. Sunday at Tidye A. Phillips School, 1401 East 13th Place in Ford Heights, Illinois.

Whitlock and his girlfriend Alize Watson, 20, were sleeping when their home at 611 A Ave. NW caught fire around 2 a.m. Tuesday.

Watson said she woke up to a smoke-filled bedroom.

“I woke up and I couldn’t breathe,” she said.

Cedar Rapids public safety spokesman Greg Buelow said smoke alarms in the home were off their bases and did not appear to be operable.

Watson said she pushed the air conditioning unit out the second floor window and stuck her head out for air. When that wasn’t enough, she climbed out on to the roof and started to scream. From outside, she could hear Whitlock.

“I heard him yelling from inside,” she said. “I tried to go back in, but it was too hot. It was real, real hot.”

A neighbor propped a ladder against the two-story house, allowing Watson to escape. Within a few minutes, Cedar Rapids firefighters and Area Ambulance had arrived on the scene.

According to fire department officials, fire was coming from the side and rear of the single-family residence when they arrived. Firefighters knocked down the exterior fire, allowing them to enter the home. They went up to the second floor and found Whitlock in a bedroom. Whitlock was taken from the home and taken to St. Luke’s Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Investigators have said the fire started by a frying pot with grease that had been left unattended. The fire was determined to be unintentional, fire department officials said.

Whitlock served as a member of the Illinois National Guard and attended Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania.

He is survived by his parents Bryant and Patrisa Keys and Rafael Whitlock.

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