Update: Neighbors talk about man found dead in burned Johnson City home

Becky Campbell • Dec 3, 2012 at 10:09 PM

A Johnson City man died in a house fire early Monday morning, about 24 hours after his brother died in his sleep at the same residence, according to the men’s neighbors.

City fire officials have not released the name of the man who died in the fire, but neighbors said it was Gary Schill.

They also said Schill’s brother, Ronnie Schill, was found dead in his bed early Sunday morning.

Johnson City firefighters responded to the blaze at 1807 E. Watauga Ave. around 5 a.m Monday after residents called 911.

Gary Carr, one of the Schill brothers’ next-door neighbors, said his 4-year-old granddaughter heard the fire popping and woke up the family.

On the other side of the Schill house, Brenda Williams said a loud boom woke her up.

“I looked out and everything was lit up,” by the fire, she said Monday. “It’s a tragedy,” she said as she recalled speaking to Gary Schill on Sunday.

Williams said she told her daughter they had to get out of the house.

Williams and Carr said they talked to Gary Schill Sunday, and he was upset and distraught about his brother’s death.

“They were close,” Carr said.

Both of their homes had heat damage from the fire. Williams said firefighters saved her home, which sits about 20 feet from the Schill house, from catching on fire.

“When they got here, they got it watered down,” she said as she surveyed a cracked window and the melted siding on her home.

“They done an excellent job. The whole house coulda went,” she said.

Fire investigators spent most of the day sifting through charred debris, attempting to determine what caused the fire.

Assistant Fire Marshal Lori Ratliff said the victim was a white man, though she did not elaborate further on his identity.

She did say, according to 911 calls, the fire appeared to have started in the front of the house and that flames were shooting out the front of the house.

Williams said that when she went outside Monday morning, the carport attached to the front of the house was completely engulfed in flames.

The heavily charred remains of the structure partially collapsed onto a vehicle parked there.

Ratliff said the investigation into the fire had just begun, so a cause had not yet been determined.

The body taken from the home has been sent for an autopsy.

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