Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area News

November 13, 2010

Home burns, resident dies

CROSSVILLE — Despite the best efforts of a family member, neighbor and sheriff's deputy, a man pulled from a burning house has died and it appears that the death was by natural causes and the fire may have been accidental.

Cumberland County Sheriff's Investigator Scott Griffin said this week there is no reason to suspect the fire was anything but accidental, and there is no indication that the death of John E. Gaynor, 72, 1048 Turkey Blind Rd., was due to anything but natural causes.

Still, officials are withholding final ruling in both cases until all tests and reports are returned from the state medical examiner's office in Nashville.

Emergency personnel were dispatched to the Turkey Blind address, off Lantana Rd., shortly after 9 p.m. Friday on a report of a structure fire with a man still inside the residence, according to Deputy David Bowman's report.

Bowman wrote that he arrived on the scene to find a group of people outside the burning residence hollering that a man was still inside the house. At this point, Bowman wrote, the garage and the right side of the residence was fully enveloped in flames.

The victim's son-in-law, David Skinner, and neighbor, Terry Kimbrell, and Bowman entered the burning residence and pulled the victim from the house and started CPR on the victim until emergency medical personnel arrived on the scene.

Gaynor was rushed to Cumberland Medical Center but did not survive.

Skinner, who lives nearby, told Bowman that he had received a phone call from his in-laws next door and that he saw flames coming from the residence. He called 911 and then kicked in the door and led his mother-in-law to safety but at that time was unable to locate his father-in-law.

Skinner then ran to the rear of the house and kicked that door open and crawled into the house, looking for Gaynor. When the heat and smoke became too intensive, he retreated back outside and was then joined by Kimbrell and Bowman who helped locate and pull the victim from the fire.

"At this time there is nothing that points to anything but an accidental fire," Griffin said this week. "It appears to have started in the area of the garage. The insurance investigators have also viewed the scene and have come to the same conclusion."

As for the cause of death, Griffin said a preliminary report indicates the absence of smoke in the victim's lungs, leading investigators to believe Gaynor may have suffered a fatal heart attack. That will not be known for sure until the autopsy is complete, Griffin added.


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