Knoxville family works to clean, rebuild after home destroyed in fire

Local News

Several members of the Landis family were at Jason and Melissa Landis’ home Wednesday, working to remove as much trash as they could before the rain comes on Thursday.

It might have looked like cindered rubbish Wednesday, but before early Monday morning, it was all clothes, furniture, food, beds and memories.

Sean Landis, 18, had just gotten out of the shower and was getting ready to go to bed around midnight Sunday when he heard loud popping noises and then the house smoke alarms.

He went to the kitchen and saw a big ball of fire.

“As soon as I yelled ‘Mom, Dad, Jordan get out!’ I ran to the kitchen sink to look for a fire extinguisher,” Sean Landis said.

Within the hour, the house was fully engulfed with flames.

Jason, Melissa, Sean and Jordan were able to get out safely. The family said one dog escaped without injuries.

One of their cats needed oxygen and was slightly burned. The family picked the cat up from the veterinarian Wednesday.

Their other cat was unable to make it out alive.

The family said they were blessed in some ways after the tragedy, in that they were able to get out alive.

They also said the firefighters were able to save the camper, which they will be able to live in while the home is rebuilt.

Cynthia Rochat, Melissa Landis’ sister, and Kelsey Landis, their daughter-in-law, helped at the home and set up a GoFundMe for donations.

They were also at the house Monday morning, after the flames were already visible from a mile away.

Rochat said they are thankful to the community for already sending clothes and money.

They ran out of the house without their possessions, much less basics. Emergencies like house fires have that obvious effect.

Kelsey Landis and Rochat said the family still needs some basic items to make it a couple more weeks.

Melissa Landis says she needs more clothes in her size and so does the youngest son, 16-year-old Jordan Landis.

The women also said a portable toilet would be nice while they work on the home. They’ve had to go to the closest store or in the woods since the fire.

As they continue to dig through the rubble, searching for remnants of their life like mementos, the family was surprised by what the fire didn’t destroy.

Some old family scrapbooks with baby pictures survived with barely any smoke or water damage.

Jason Landis also had a fireproof safe that kept all of the family’s personal records such as birth certificates and car titles. 

A worthy investment for the unthinkable. 

The cause of the fire has not yet been confirmed by investigators. WATE 6 On Your Side is working to learn more. 

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