By Michael R. Moser
thsAn infant child remains hospitalized in the burns unit at Vanderbilt Medical Center in critical but stable condition this week after suffering serious second-degree burns in a house fire Friday, according to investigators.
The toddler — reported to the Chronicle to be eight months old or younger — was rushed from a nearby auto repair business to Cumberland Medical Center by ambulance and then flown to the Nashville trauma center.
Present in the house was Carl Allen, the young victim and the victim's brother who is believed to be around five years of age. Allen is a friend of the parents of the two youngsters.
Cumberland County Fire Department received a report of flames breaking through the roof of a house on Old Jamestown Hwy., just south of Page Auction, around 2 p.m. The house is owned by Buddy Page.
Because county firefighters were on other calls, the Crossville Fire Department responded to the scene with county units. The house, being rented to a Bruce Adkisson, suffered major damage and will probably be declared a total loss.
"The fire and what happened as a result of the fire remains under investigation," Cumberland County Sheriff's Investigator Scott Griffin said. "We are still waiting to consult with a doctor who is attending the child."
Griffin said investigators are confident the fire was an accident, caused by a burning cigarette in the area of a couch in the front room. One theory is that a cigarette got knocked from an ashtray and landed on the old sofa, causing the fire.
Once Allen discovered flames reaching up the walls from the couch, he grabbed the two youngsters and fled from the house, leaving the child on the front porch and the older child with him as he ran in a panic to the nearby auto business to summon help.
When he arrived back to the scene, flames had broken through the roof and front and were rolling under the cover of the porch, causing intense heat in the area where the baby had been placed. It was that heat, and not flames, that are believed to have caused the baby's injuries, Griffin explained.
Griffin said evidence at the scene along with Allen's statement back the accidental theory, but there are questions that investigators are still seeking answers to before issuing a ruling in the fire.
The investigator added that the filing of a charge or charges has not been ruled out.