Update: Hamblen fire victims include grandson, grandfather

(WBIR-Hamblen County) Three people are dead, including a 4-year-old child, after two separate fires in Hamblen County early Saturday morning.

The first fire started around midnight at a house on Spencer Hale Road in Morristown.

Willie Jarnigan, 73, and his 4-year-old grandson died in the fire.

Willie Shane Jarnigan, who lost his father and son, escaped from the home uninjured.

"When you pull a 4-year-old child from a burning house and he's dead, knowing that if you could only have been there a few seconds earlier and gave him mouth to mouth it might have saved his life... it's sad anytime a person loses their life but it's really sad when it involves children," Hamblen Co. Sheriff Esco Jarnagin said.

The elder Willie was one out of 12 siblings and a retired electrician. "It's rough. I've lived beside Willie for 16, 17 years... He was a good friend, good neighbor," Neighbor Spencer Seals said.

The Tenn. Fire Marshall's Office is assisting local authorities in the investigation. Sheriff Jarnagin said it is being treated as a "suspicious fire."

A couple hours later, firefighters responded to another fatal fire on Cedar Creek Dr. in Russellville--just 15 minutes from the one in Morristown.

"My wife said the dogs were out there barking again and she said, 'You might oughta get up and look out the door and see what's going on,'" recalled Hazen Bible, a neighbor.

The fire killed Rose Greene, 61, who was disabled. Her dog also died in the fire.

According to Sheriff Jarnagin, they believe the fire was caused from Greene smoking in her bedroom near her oxygen tank.

Authorities said the two fires are not related.

"When we do have a fire it's usually not anything major and almost never is a life taken from the fire," Sheriff Jarnagin said.

The fire investigation in Morristown will not be finished for several days.

Sheriff Jarnagin is not sure if either of the homes had working fire detectors.


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