UPDATE: A large fire engulfed a Whitwell home and claimed the life of a man who lived inside. It happened just before midnight on Wednesday on the 4400 block of Alvin York Highway in Marion County.

The home is well known in the community, neighbors and family members say several generations of the same family have lived there.

For one firefighter, this call was more personal to him because he was working to save the home and the person inside, who he considers a brother.

"You just have to block it out and go with it and charge through,” said Firefighter Jonathan Maxwell.

Four volunteer fire agencies responded to assist including Maxwell’s, who is a firefighter with Whitwell. He didn’t know until he pulled up to the area that someone he knew could be trapped inside. 

"I automatically knew it was it was. I couldn't remember the exact address, as soon as I got on scene I saw the house and the shape it was, I didn't think he was there,” Maxwell said.

Maxwell is a close relative of the man killed in Wednesday’s fire, he grew up with him and his mother lived in the house that’s now burned.

“Every time he would need a ride to work I’d stop and go and get him. If he was down, I’d pick him up and walk with him,” he said.
Investigators still don't know what caused the fire. However, Marion County’s Sheriff tells us he believes a space heater could be to blame.

"Sometimes space heaters too close to clothing or other flammable is a fairly common cause,” said Assistant Chief Charles McEntyre. McEntyre said it appears the owner did not have working smoke alarms.

It’s been a difficult few years for this family, not too long ago, they lost another family member in a separate house fire. Now Maxwell is grieving the loss of a man he considered a brother.

"I couldn't imagine this happening to him and I wish I would have been here with him,” he said.

This is the second major fire in the Whitwell area this year. Firefighters say the cold weather likely played a role in both.

Firefighters stressed the importance of having working smoke alarms and a plan in case of an emergency. They say, contact your local fire department if you need assistance.


PREVIOUS STORY: The Marion County Sheriff's Office confirms a man has died in a fire at a Whitwell home.

It happened late Wednesday night on Alvin York Highway near Powell Road. 

The victim's name has not been released.

The cause of the fire is being investigated, but the sheriff believes a space heater may have caused the fire.  

Stay with Channel 3 as this story develops.