It happened just before 3:30 Monday morning along Mississippi Avenue in West Knoxville.
“The little boy used to come over here and play with my granddaughter,” said neighbor Gloria Thompson. “Actually, they played yesterday.”
Thompson told WATE 6 On Your Side she couldn’t believe what she saw when she woke up early Monday morning.
“The flames were in the front window and looked like by that time that it might have had come out on the outside of the window. One of the neighbors was throwing buckets of water on it from the outside.”
Once first responders arrived, they learned two people – a man and a child, were trapped inside.
“Switched from firefighting mode very quickly into rescue mode,” said Knoxville Fire Department (KFD) Public Information Officer Mark Wilbanks. “Made their way into the residence and did locate three-year-old child and a 67-year-old male.”
Neighbors say the victims were a grandfather and grandson.
“He was a playful child,” said Thompson. “He was a cheerful child. When he’d see the kids he’d say, ‘I wanna play ball. Can you come over here?’ He was just a cheerful, playful little boy.”
Just down the road, Randy Valentine misses his neighbor and friend.
“Whenever he was out, I’d speak to him and holler at him,” said Valentine. “I’d go down and just talk to him and see if he needed any help with anything. It was a shock to hear that that happened. Cause I really liked him. He was a good man.”
As the investigation into Monday morning’s tragedy continues, neighbors say they’re left waiting for answers.
“It’s a tragedy,” Thompson told WATE. “It’s just a tragedy and we don’t know. We don’t know.”
KFD doesn’t believe foul play was involved, but the investigation into what caused the fire is continuing.