By Smoke Alarms
That Had Been
BY KEN LITTLE
Smoke alarms installed recently by the Greeneville Fire Department may have saved the lives of a man and woman inside a house that was destroyed by fire Tuesday morning, Chief Mark Foulks said.
Thomas and Sandra McKamey escaped their home at 206 Rankin Drive without injury, Foulks said.
The fire was called in at 9:03 a.m. Tuesday.
Greeneville police arriving at the scene heard popping noises coming from inside the house.
They couldn't rule out the possibility of gunfire, so firefighters were advised to hold off responding until it could be determined what was causing the noises, Chief Foulks said.
"They told us to kind of [hold up temporarily], and they discovered the entire back of the house was on fire," he said.
"There was some kind of fuel cans or aerosol cans or chemicals stored inside the house causing little mini-explosions."
The initial call received by 911 was for a trash can on fire behind the house, Foulks aid. More units responded when the scope of the blaze became known.
The fire spread to a van parked next to the garage of the split-level style home. The flames may have then spread from the van to the house.
Firefighters were not able to safely enter the wood-frame structure.
"What we had is burning on all three levels of the house -- the basement, the main level and the attic," Foulks said.
The house is on a ridge, and firefighters also had to contend with windy conditions.
"It was blowing 10 to 20 miles per hour, and it changed direction two or three times," Foulks said. "The wind was just fanning everything as we were trying to get it under control."
Four engines and one command unit from the Greeneville Fire Department responded, along with Greene County-Greeneville Emergency Medical Services and the Greene County Chapter of the American Red Cross, which assisted the McKameys with food and clothing.
Thomas McKamey was trying to extinguish the fire with a garden hose when firefighters arrived, Foulks said.
Anthony Morrison, Red Cross chapter executive director, said today that the McKameys are staying with relatives.
A damage estimate was not available this morning. The cause remains under investigation, Foulks said.
"It all goes back to the garbage can," he said.
The McKameys were in bed when the fire started.
"We're confident the fire had been burning for some time when the occupants were alerted," Foulks said.
Smoke alarms were recently installed in the house as part of a program conducted by the Greeneville Fire Department.
"Smoke alarms work as far as saving folks' lives," the chief said. "It proves the worth of that smoke alarm program."