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Fatal Fire at Independent Living Facility

By Meghan Pinkley
By mpinkley@wbbjtv.com

BEECH BLUFF, Tenn. - The search for answers continues after a deadly fire erupted at a housing facility in Beech Bluff, Tuesday afternoon.

Jeff Poe said he was sleeping when he awoke to the smell of smoke. He did not even make it out of the door with shoes on his feet.

"Walked down to Wayne's room because that's where the fire started and I opened the door and it was smokey, so we came back outside," said Poe.

Authorities have confirmed that Johnny Wayne Brown, 62, was the resident who died in the fire.

"He said he would smoke outside of his door but I didn't know he'd smoked inside of his room," added Poe.

Fire officials said for now, what started the fire is still under investigation.

"Horrible. My heart is just broke. I've had some of these people for five years," said Helen Daniel.

Madison County Fire Chief Eric Turner said the fire that destroyed Jackson Independent Living was a challenge to put out.

"The conditions, with it being so hot has been a big factor. This structure is cut up with lots of bedrooms and lots of different rooms which made it difficult to search and made it difficult to fight fires with pockets of fire located in the building," said Chief Turner. It took fire fighters several hours to get the fire under control.

Poe said his most precious possessions were consumed by the flames.

"My baby pictures and my pictures of my family growing up, and my mom." Many of the residents at Jackson Independent Living said they lived there for years and everyone has become part of a family and they hope no matter what happens they can continue to stay together.

"We're just going to have to place them somewhere but right now we don't know where," added Daniel. She said not all of the nine residents who lived in the facility were at the home when the fire broke out. The investigation into what initially started the fire continues.

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