Photo by Ned Jilton.
KINGSPORT — Authorities on Wednesday were probing the gutted remains of a Kingsport residence, where reports of explosions and the possibility of dynamite forced evacuations of neighboring homes during an overnight blaze.
Police said that despite receiving information such materials may be inside, no explosives were located and no charges will be filed. The American Red Cross is assisting the home’s elderly, lone occupant, who neighbors said lived in the residence his entire life.
The report of a fire on Ashwood Avenue came in at 10:20 p.m. Tuesday. Kingsport Fire Department Public Education Officer Barry Brickey said flames were showing through the right rear of the residence, and firefighters entered the back of the home for an interior attack.
Brickey reported authorities were soon told that explosives could be inside the home. KFD engines and personnel were moved away from the structure, and nearby homes were temporarily evacuated. Neighbors who spoke to the Times-News on Wednesday morning reported hearing multiple pops and blasts coming from the fire.
Unmanned nozzles were set up to flow water on the structure as firefighters pulled back and worked to protect the neighboring Powerhouse Church and multiple mobile homes. Kingsport firefighters were at the scene throughout the night. Their last unit cleared the area at approximately 7:30 a.m. Wednesday.
By 9 a.m. Wednesday, Kingsport Police Department fire investigators and members of the Explosives Ordnance Disposal Squad arrived on scene to sift through the structure’s charred remains.
KPD Public Information Officer Tom Patton said the resident, Elmer Thacker, was cooking on the stove before the incident. Thacker said he went to the bathroom and then returned to the kitchen and discovered the fire.
Witnesses said Thacker’s dog was killed in the blaze. As emergency personnel worked the scene late Tuesday night, Thacker repeatedly tried to get into his house in attempts to rescue the pet, according to neighbors. They said that led police to temporarily detain him in a squad car.
Brickey said an investigation into the fire has been completed, with cause determined to be the cooking fire.
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