Fire responders share safety tips following deadly Jefferson Co. fire

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DANDRIDGE, Tenn. (WATE) — An early morning house fire Wednesday on Scarlett Road claimed two lives, a mother and son. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is working to determine an exact cause, while local first responders are sharing safety tips following the deadly incident.

This is what we know right now: 

  • Jefferson County Sheriff, Jeff Coffey, confirmed deputies and firefighters were dispatched at 6:48 Wednesday morning. 
  • Dandridge Fire Department Deputy Chief, Stephen Williams, explained when they arrived most of the home was already in flames. 
  • Two people, a mother and son, died.

The fire took Kenneth Roland’s mother and brother.

His home sits directly behind their home. He recalled hearing his brother yelling, running out of his home, and calling 911. Next, he said, his brother went back inside in an attempt to save their mother. Neither of them made it out.

“I told him I was calling the fire department. He said I’ll go get momma and he went in. I tried to follow him a few minutes later, but I couldn’t,” Roland said. 

Sheriff Coffey noted no foul play is suspected at this time, but an extensive investigation is standard after a deadly fire.

The sheriff also confirmed there were no smoke alarms in the home. He believes that could have prevented the tragedy.

“It’s just a tragic day, whenever you lose a life period…you have a son and mother both, that’s parished in this fire. It’s just tragic,” Coffey said.

He encouraged the public to make sure they have working smoke detectors, with fresh batteries. He advised anyone without one to call their local fire department. 

As the weather cools, Williams also wanted to remind the public to take extra precautions to protect themselves, including ensuring their heat sources are working properly and well-maintained.

“It’s that time of the year…everybody’s firing up stoves and heaters that have not been run for several months,” he said. 

If you live in Dandridge, Williams said, all you have to do is call and they will install one at no cost. He also referenced a free state program the public can access online if they need a smoke detector. https://www.tn.gov/commerce/fire/prevention-education-and-outreach/get-alarmed-tn.html

A final piece of potentially life-saving advice, Williams emphasized, is if a person does manage to escape a burning building — to stay out. 

Because it isn’t an everyday occurrence, the scene is likely to stick in the minds of some of his fellow firefighters. Williams said they undergo training to cope with tragedies like this, but added that everyone responds to them differently.

“Some guys will be quiet about it and some will seek help with it. But, all and all, we’re there for each other,” Williams added. 

Williams said this is the first fatal fire in at least four years for Jefferson County. Including the two lives lost in this blaze, Dandridge Fire Department has seen four in the last decade, he said. 

(Photo: WATE)

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