Community mourning the loss of 80-year-old Grandmother killed in - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Community mourning the loss of 80-year-old Grandmother killed in fire

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RHEA COUNTY, TN (WRCB) - Friends and loved ones are remembering a Rhea County woman killed in a house fire.

Rhea County firefighters were dispatched to a fully involved fire at 638 Fisher Road around 6:30 a.m. Saturday.

Upon arrival, units were informed by family members that an elderly female was believed to still be inside. During suppression, and search and rescue efforts, firefighters found 80-year old Joyce Burnette of Dayton, unresponsive in the kitchen. 

The disabled grandmother died from her injuries. Rhea County Fire Chief Jacky Reavley tells Channel 3 it was a passerby who noticed flames and called for help. Officials say Burnette lived alone in the home and likely died from smoke inhalation.

"The exact cause is undetermined but it appears to be electrical in nature, that it started in the attic," said Fire Chief Reavley. 

"The first units on the scene advised that the house was fully involved in the attic area, the roof and everything was on fire and it had dropped down into the living area of the house. The fire was so intense, they really couldn't make an interior attack until after the fire was under control."

Fire officials say this is the first fire fatality in Rhea County since December 23, 2008. Long-time family friend Jack Arnold says the loss is devastating to Burnette's family and community.

"She was extremely kind, she always had a kind word for everybody and never at anytime have I ever seen her upset about anything," said Arnold. "Wonderful neighbor, wonderful people. It's just so sad that she passed that way."

Arnold says Mrs. Burnette suffered from Parkinson's disease and that she is one of the biggest reasons Frazier Park was built.

"The park was a brain child of her husband Mr. Burnette. Burnette was informed by the doctors that she needed to be out and be out walking as her health was starting to fail," said Arnold.

Family friends say there is peace in knowing Mrs. Burnette kept her faith strong.

"You never know when your last days are here and we're just thankful she knew the Lord and that's where she's at," said Arnold.

Due to the extensive fire, the exact cause of the fire could not be determined. Officials say the home is considered to be total loss. It is unclear whether or not there were smoke detectors inside the home. 

Fire Chief Reavley is reminding everyone in the community to check their smoke alarms. If you do not have one, Rhea County Fire Department will come out and install one for free.

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