MOUNT CARMEL — A father and daughter lost their beloved dog of 15 years in a house fire Wednesday afternoon, as well as 84 years’ worth of irreplaceable family mementos going back three generations.
Nikki Barnett told the Times News she was gone to the store for only five minutes, but when she returned home to 416 Kaywood Ave., the house was on fire.
She had left the two family dogs on the porch. One escaped the fire, but the other, her father’s 15-year-old dog that he had had since it was a puppy, was missing and presumed to have perished.
At 12:12 p.m., the Mount Carmel and Carters Valley Volunteer Fire Departments responded to the fire, which was initially dispatched as an entrapment.
Later it was determined that Barnett had attempted to enter the residence to save her father’s dog, but she couldn’t find him the animal before the heat and smoke forced her to retreat from the home.
She was treated by Hawkins County EMS at the scene for smoke inhalation, but wasn’t hospitalized.
Neighbors consoled Barnett as she stood across the street and wept as she watched firefighters working to save the house that has been in her family for more than eight decades.
By the time firefighters arrived on the scene, the house was fully engulfed in flames. The house is believed to be a complete loss.
Mount Carmel Police Department Chief Grady White said the cause of the fire is suspected to be electrical.
Barnett said she and her father have homeowners’ insurance, but they lost a lot of personal items and family keepsakes.
“It was just full of stuff that couldn’t be replaced because it was my mamaw and papaw’s house in 1934," Barnett said. “Even my dad’s brother’s ashes — everything was in there.”
Wednesday’s blaze was the third major residential fire in Hawkins County this month. None of the three involved serious injury to humans, but all three resulted in the death of pets. Last week, a Mount Carmel man lost 11 dogs in a house fire, and a Christians Bend family lost two dogs.
Hawkins County EMA Director Gary Murrell told the Times News from the scene that with the beginning of cold weather there are always more house fires.
Some quick tips to avoid fire include making sure your chimneys and/or flue is cleaned out, make sure all space heaters are a safe distance from furniture, and if you use space heaters, make sure your outlets and fuse box are capable of managing the increased output.
As always, Murrell recommends that everyone replace their fire detector batteries if they haven’t already.