Sheriff says smoking likely cause of fatal Carter fire

John Thompson • Sep 5, 2012 at 10:00 AM

ELIZABETHTON — Carter County Sheriff Chris Mathes said the house fire that killed Jackie Malone Hampton, 58, last week appears to have been an accident caused by smoking in bed.

Mathes said the findings are not official. The department is awaiting the results of the autopsy. He said Travis Ludlow, the department’s arson investigator, and representatives of the state fire marshal’s office searched for clues in the burned house at 133 Roan St., Roan Mountain, on Tuesday.

“They found no accelerants at the source of the fire,” Mathes said shortly after the investigators completed their examination of Hampton’s home.

The sheriff’s department also released the incident report filed by Sgt. Kenny Cornett, the first officer on the scene at Friday’s fire.

Cornett said several volunteer fire departments and emergency medical personnel had already arrived when he reached the scene on a narrow dead end road near Cloudland High School.

Cornett talked with Wade Hampton, who said he was in the family’s leather craft business, just a few hundred feet from the house. He said his father, Bill Hampton, and his girlfriend, Theresa Anderson, were also in the business.

Wade Hampton told Cornett he decided to check on Jackie Hampton around 10:15 a.m. He said she required attention because she was an invalid and needed a wheelchair to get around the house.

When he walked over to the residence, he said he noticed he couldn’t see inside and he smelled smoke. The door was locked so he ran back to the leather shop to get the keys.

When he returned, he said he heard Jackie Hampton screaming for help. He tired to get to her, but was overcome by the smoke. Wade Hampton and Bill Hampton kept trying to reach her but the heat and smoke was too intense.

Firefighters said they found Hampton’s body in the front room. It took the firefighters nearly two hours to extinguish the flames.

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