On Wednesday children's toys sit outside the home of Tuesday's fatal fire. Photo by Rain Smith.
Update: 12 p.m.
KINGSPORT — A 3-year-old boy has been identified as the victim of a fatal fire, leaving neighbors shocked by the tragic loss on their quiet Kingsport street.
Kingsport Fire Department Public Education Officer Barry Brickey confirmed Henley Dunbar was killed in the blaze. His mother, Nikki Dunbar, was transported by EMS to Holston Valley Medical Center, where she was listed in critical condition Wednesday afternoon.
Shortly after 10 a.m. Tuesday, KFD responded to the scene, 1009 Rosetree Lane, finding flames through approximately 30 percent of the structure.
Reba Glover, who lives two houses down from the Dunbars, couldn’t get home due to emergency personnel working the scene. She said she waited at the end of the road with a neighbor — Nikki’s husband and father of Henley. Together they maneuvered around fire trucks to catch a glimpse of the commotion.
“He saw it was his house, and he took off running,” recalled Glover, 70, tears welling in her eyes.
“Yesterday I said, ‘God, why didn’t you take me? I’m ready to go.’ (Henley) just started his life,” Glover said.
Upon arrival, one group of firefighters entered through a rear entrance, another through the front. The boy and his mother were located in less than three minutes.
Brickey said investigators are still working to determine what ignited the blaze.
“Anytime there’s a fire, we’re always very thorough with what we do,” Brickey said of identifying a potential cause. “Small fire or large fire, we go through the same process to make a determination.”
Glover said she last spoke with Nikki Dunbar on Sunday, as she took one of her frequent strolls past the family’s home. Nikki reportedly told her, “Things are looking up for us,” then relayed news of her husband’s new job.
Neighbors said Henley had two siblings, with Nikki and her husband always attentive to the trio. They’re never left outside alone, according to Glover, and raised in a loving family.
“(Henley) would be out playing in the yard, and he’d say, ‘Ms. Reba, are you gonna play?’ I’d say, ‘I’m an old lady, but I’ll do the best I can.’ He was the most kind, loving child.”
The death of Henley Dunbar marks the first fire fatality within Kingsport city limits in more than six years. Brickey said investigators can’t determine if a melted smoke alarm found in the home malfunctioned.
Brickey stressed that having at least one working smoke alarm increases the chances of surviving a home fire by 50 percent.
“We’re all praying God will spare a life,” Glover said of Nikki Dunbar.