Archive for Monday, March 13, 2006

Fire survivor picks through ashes of house

March 13, 2006


— The lone survivor of a rural house fire that killed nine of his relatives stood in the ashes Sunday recalling his frantic attempt to rescue them the day before.

Joseph Alexander, 19, awoke to his cousin's screams early Saturday as the fire raged upstairs. Investigators told him it appeared his relatives - six children and three adults - had awakened and gotten out of bed, but he said heavy smoke blocked his path to reach them.

"That really gets to me," said Alexander, who escaped through a first-floor window.

Alexander's relatives were among 20 people, most of them children, killed in house fires in Tennessee, Indiana and Kentucky over the weekend. The causes of the three blazes were under investigation, though investigators said no foul play was suspected.

Investigators in the small eastern Tennessee town of Evensville, about 40 miles north of Chattanooga, said there was no working smoke detector in the two-story house where Alexander lived.

Rhea County Sheriff Mike Neal said the cause of the fire was possibly faulty wiring, but might never be known.


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