Fire destroys Knox County home, woman hospitalized

Fire destroys Knox County home, woman hospitalized


6 News Anchor/Reporter

KARNS (WATE) - An early morning fire in West Knox County sent an elderly woman to the hospital and destroyed her home.

The fire broke out just before 2 a.m. Saturday on Diggs Road.

Fire crews say the home is a total loss, but that it could have been a lot worse.

The homes resident, a woman in her 70's who lived alone, made it out alive.

"When a trailer does catch fire, it burns very, very quickly," said Karns Fire Department Fire Chief Ken Marston.

The home was engulfed in flames when fire crews arrived.

Neighbors reported hearing explosions coming from the home, which were still going on when firefighters got there.

"We had explosions inside at that point in time because of the clutter inside the house and the debris. We went to a defensive attack, surrounded the fire and put it out from the outside," said Marston.

The resident, identified by a neighbor as Bertha Mae Rasar, had gotten out of the house on her own.

Crews found her in the front yard.

That came as great news to neighbor Steve Gamble, who had looked on in horror as the home burned.

"We thought she was in there and we both felt sick, ya know, because we thought she was in there," said Gamble.

Gamble and his wife had actually paid off Rasar's home last year when she fell on hard times.

"She moved in here and we just kind of took her under our wing because she didn't have anybody else to help her out so," said Rasar.

Everything is gone now, including all of her possessions, so many in fact, they actually made the fire harder for crews to fight.

"We can't make entrance. It limits our ability for search and rescue. It limits our ability to get a hose line inside," said Marston.

As for what caused the explosions, they're still trying to figure it out.

"We believe they may have been oxygen related but we are not sure," said Marston.

Marston says they see an increase in house fires in the winter.

"More people are using space heaters and propane or kerosene heaters in their homes. We caution everybody to be extremely careful with these," said Marston.

Gamble says he's just glad his neighbor is alright.

"She's alive. That's what matters, ya know," said Gamble.

Crews say the flames were so big, they actually started a small brush fire across the street, which crews quickly put out.

Rasar was taken to UT Medical Center with burn injuries but was transported to Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville.

The exact cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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