One child killed, three hurt in S. Knox fire

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One of four children who were injured in a fire this afternoon in South Knoxville has died, authorities say.

“It is with great sadness and heavy hearts that the Knoxville Fire Department shares the death of one of the children who was a victim of today’s fire on Lendland Avenue,” said KFD Assistant Chief Mark Wilbanks in a statement issued this evening. “The entire Knoxville Fire Department extends our sincere condolences to the family during the extremely difficult time.”

Officials have declined to release the names of the children who were harmed in today’s fire. They were “all considered in critical condition” when they were rushed to the University of Tennessee Medical Center shortly after KFD responded to the 2 p.m. blaze, according to Wilbanks.

The fire was reported by a female who called the Knox County E-911 Center and told dispatchers there was a house on fire at 1620 Lenland Avenue with three children possibly trapped in the basement, Wilbanks said. 

The caller told dispatchers that she was going to try rescuing the children from the flames, and the fire KFD units arrived within one minute of the initial alarm, he continued.

“Upon arrival, the initial engine company reported heavy fire showing from the rear of the structure,” he explained. “The initial crew attempted to gain entry to affect rescue but was pushed back due to the large amount of fire. As additional companies arrived, they were able to make their way into the structure to remove two juveniles.”

An additional two children were found at the scene and all four were rushed to the hospital by ambulance, he continued. 

“I’m gonna say it was mostly smoke inhalation. However, there is a large chance they were burned to some degree,” he said. 

Four dogs also perished in the fire, which completely destroyed the house, he said. A total of seven people lived in the house, six of whom were home at the time of the fire.

“I can’t release more on the children yet, we’re waiting for the family to be contacted,” said Wilbanks, adding only that the victims were all “pre-teens.”

The home appeared to have working smoke alarms, and the Red Cross was helping the displaced occupants with emergency shelter, according to officials. 

Because of the searing summer heat, firefighters had an especially difficult time bringing the flames under control, explained Wilbanks. 

“Due the temperature at the time of the fire nearing 90 degrees and the heavy fire load this was an extremely difficult fire to fight,” he said. “The heat creates a much harder work environment. We wear very thick thermal protective gear and in hot conditions it makes it harder to work and release heat.”  

 It took approximately two hours for the 22 firefighters who were deployed to extinguish the blaze. 

KFD investigators were trying to determine the cause of the fire. 

Wilbanks said that any private residence in the City can receive a free smoke alarm from KFD. Residents of the city of Knoxville can call 311 to schedule an installation. 

Published on June 6, 2022.