New details on fatal fire in Rhea County

RHEA COUNTY, Tennessee(WDEF) – Rhea County authorities have now confirmed what was believed to have led to a deadly blaze Saturday morning.

It happened at a home on Fisher Road.

"It was determined that the fire started in the attic of the house. The specific cause could not be determined. But our thoughts are that it was electrical," said Rhea County Fire Chief Jacky Reavley.

Chief Reavley said flames were already visible by the time crews arrived. He also said it took firefighters 30-minutes to put out the blaze.

"The whole roof and attic section of the house was totally involved in flames. And that dropped down into the living area  of the house," Reavley said.

Authorities later discovered the body of Joyce Burnette, 80, of Rhea County. According to the fire chief, she was located in the kitchen.

"It’s just a tragic loss when we have a fire where someone lost their life. It’s very hard to deal with the family in a situation like that because I feel for their concerns," Reavley said.

Hours after fire crews left the scene, Burnette’s family came by to see the damage first-hand. Burnette’s daughter-in-law told WDEF that Burnette suffered from Parkinson’s Disease and had a hard time getting around. She also said Burnett chose to live alone in her home but that other family members often came over to make sure she was ok.

News of Burnette’s death has also been really hard on several neighbors and friends.

WDEF spoke to Bill Houston who fought to hold back tears once he learned of Burnette’s death.

"She was very nice. Always a nice person in the neighborhood.She was a wonderful grandmother and mother. She was just wonderful," Houston said.

According to fire investigators, Saturday’s incident was the first fire fatality in Rhea County since 2008.

Categories: Local News, Rhea County

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