By Michael R. Moser
Three family members are in very critical condition at a regional burns and trauma center after they were pulled from their burning home unconscious Wednesday night in a rescue credited to first responders of the Crossville Fire Department and Crossville Police Department.
"We are not identifying the victims at this time because we have not been able to learn who their next of kin are to contact them," Crossville Fire Chief Mike Turner said at the scene Thursday afternoon.
Turner said the three were family members — a 58-year-old male, 57 year-old female and that woman's 37-year-old daughter.
Two of the victims suffered first- and second-degree burns while the third victim suffered second- and third-degree burns. They all suffered smoke inhalation.
"The first responders — firefighters and police — did a wonderful job when they got to the scene," Turner said. "They absolutely saved those people's lives."
Both Turner and Incident Commander Chris South responded to the scene from their homes and when they arrived, three persons had been rescued and were being treated and the fire had been extinguished.
In addition to being unconscious, two of the victims were not breathing when rescued from the fire, Turner said.
After being rushed to Cumberland Medical Center, one of the victims was flown to the burns and trauma center at Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville and the other two taken by Cumberland County Emergency Medical Services ambulances.
The home — a duplex — is located at 45 Dunbar Lane which is located on the west side of TAP's publishing facility. The scene is one block from the fire and police departments and the speedy response played a key role in the rescue of the three.
"We don't know the cause of the fire for certain," Turner said. "It definitely started in the kitchen, in the area of a refrigerator." Turner added that there were reports of a loud clap of thunder just prior to the fire being discovered.
"We don't know at this time if that played a role in the cause or not," said Turner. "We could not find any evidence that the house had been struck by lightning."
Neighbors in the adjoining unit of the duplex discovered the fire and called 911. Both units suffered damage in the blaze. Firefighters remained on the scene for several hours Wednesday night and early Thursday morning and returned at daybreak to continue their investigation.
Crossville Arson Investigator Rick Myers is scheduled to travel to Vanderbilt Friday in hopes that he will be able to talk to one or more of the victims to learn more about the fire.