A fire in Johnson City Thursday morning gutted a house but injured none of its three occupants when a yet unknown source caused the structure to erupt in flames.
Jordan Campbell, 18, paced back and forth across the street from 114 W. Poplar St. as firefighters smashed through the front and back of the house in a successful attempt to reach and extinguish the flames that destroyed the home’s interior.
Campbell said he has lived in the residence all his life with his grandparents Sam and Ann Roark. He said they had lived at that location for 27 years.
“I was just in there 30 minutes ago,” Campbell said softly while staring across the street through red, watering eyes. “I had gone to work, and when I got there they called me and said the house was on fire.”
Campbell was unhurt, as was his grandmother, who was seen weeping and distraught, being helped to a neighbors’ house. Sam Roark’s whereabouts were not immediately known, but Campbell confirmed he was not in any danger.
Johnson City Fire Department Assistant Chief Mark Finucane said the call came in at 10:56 a.m.
“Two trucks and two engines came and the first arrivals found heavy fire involvement in the front room,” he said as firefighters began replacing their equipment more than an hour after they had arrived. “They knocked down the body of the fire. As other crews came in, we looked for victims and there were none. No firefighters were injured. There was some slight extension into the basement, but we got that under control as well.”
An investigation is under way to determine the cause of the fire, Finucane said.
“They’re my best neighbors,” said Lois Knight, who lives next door. “I was still in bed. I didn’t know anything was wrong until I heard knocking on the door.”
“The three people that had been living in the house have been displaced and will be staying with family members for now,” said Larry Nelson, American Red Cross of Northeast Tennessee director. “They will need to find another home. We will be helping out financially.”
Those wanting to help can call the American Red Cross of Northeast Tennessee at 928-3561.