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Bloomingdale woman died of smoke inhalation; fire's cause still unknown

June 11th, 2007 12:00 am by Jeff Bobo

Bloomingdale woman died of smoke inhalation; fire's cause still unknown

A fire at 233 Thomas St. in Bloomingdale early Sunday left one person dead. Photo by Jeff Bobo.


Sullivan County Sheriff's Office Capt. Keith Elton said Sunday a fire occurred at 233 Thomas St., where an elderly woman lived by herself.

Preliminary findings indicated that Phyllis Sandidge, 70, more than likely died as a result of smoke inhalation and not any kind of trauma.

An investigation is ongoing, and more information will be available when the autopsy results are returned in coming weeks.

Lt. Randy Simpson, a Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office Arson Investigator, is conducting the search for the cause of the residential fire.

Officials say the investigation is proving difficult, as the home was a total loss.

More information may be available as the investigation continues.


BLOOMINGDALE - This morning Sullivan County arson investigators will begin trying to find the cause of a house fire that killed one person in Bloomingdale early Sunday morning.

Sullivan County Sheriff's Office Capt. Keith Elton said Sunday the fire occurred at 233 Thomas St., where Phyllis Sandidge, 70, lived alone.

The damage was so extensive that investigators have yet to be able to determine a cause for the fire or where it started.

Volunteer firefighters from Bloomingdale and Warriors Path departments were called to the residence, located at the far west end of the Bloomingdale community, just before 5 a.m. Sunday. Sandidge lived alone in a neighborhood just north of Kingsport, and investigators believe she was the only person at the residence at the time of the fire.

The body was discovered in the residence by firefighters after the fire was extinguished and the rubble had cooled, according to reports.

By Sunday afternoon investigators couldn't say with 100 percent certainty that the body recovered from the residence was Sandidge due to the severity of the burns.

"That's about the only possibility (that it was Sandidge found in the home)," Elton said. "The family is aware of it, and she lived there alone."

There were still walls standing late Sunday afternoon as the house continued to smolder, but the interior was gutted.

The roof, interior walls and much of the floor had collapsed into the basement and the house was a total loss.

Elton said the fire damage was so extensive that any evidence as to its cause may be gone.

"They (arson investigators) are going to start in the morning, and see what they can find," Elton said. "If there's something there, they'll find it."

Investigators are currently in Johnson City awaiting results of an autopsy of the body, believed to be Sandidge, found at the residence.

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