Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

February 4, 2014

Motorists aid burn victim

By Gary Nelson
Senior staffwriter

CROSSVILLE — A Cumberland County man passed away Saturday after suffering from severe burns he received in an accidental field fire last Thursday near Lake Tansi.

Paul Whittenburg, 80, of Crossville was transported by University of Tennessee's Lifestar helicopter to Vanderbilt Medical Center for treatment of the injuries he sustained in the fire.

Jesse Gannon of Crossville said he was driving on Dunbar Rd., when he noticed the field on fire and saw Whittenburg lying out in the field.

"I stopped and a few other people driving by stopped to help the man. I had some blankets and we all covered him up and stayed with him until the paramedics and fire department got here. They got here pretty quick, but he was just burnt pretty bad," Gannon said.

Cumberland County EMS and county fire department were dispatched to the scene on Dunbar Rd. Thursday morning shortly after 11 a.m. for a brush fire and a person who was burnt.

Mike Findley of the Cumberland County Fire Department reported when they arrived, EMS was on the scene and was treating Whittenburg for severe burns to his lower body and back.

"Medically trained fire fighters assisted EMS with the patient and other firefighters took control of the fire, setting up a landing zone and traffic control," Findley reported.

Findley reported it took 50 gallons of water to extinguish the fire.

Although the report does not indicate what caused the fire, Findley later said Whittenburg told them he was working on an electrical fence box that had malfunctioned, which sparked the fire.

A friend of Whittenburg's at the scene also said he had been attempting to repair a malfunctioning electrical fence when the mishap occurred.

Whittenburg was flown out Thursday morning and passed away over the weekend from the injuries he sustained in the fire.

Friends of Whittenburg's in the community made numerous posts on Facebook requesting prayers for his family and friends. Many said he was a kind, generous man who would help anyone.

A death notice for Whittenburg can be found on page 2A of today's Chronicle.