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Man dies as results of injuries sustained in fire

A house fire last week claimed the life of a Unicoi County man and severely injured his sister.
According to Sheriff Mike Hensley, around midnight on Thursday, Dec. 11, local emergency officials received a call about a house fire at 3671 Old Asheville Highway in Erwin. Prior to the arrival of emergency personnel at the scene, Jack Bradford, who was driving by the residence and saw the fire, stopped, as did Austin Clouse, a nephew and neighbor of the deceased man.
Hensley said these men found Benny Clouse and his sister, Martha Barb, on a porch approximately 10-feet off the ground. Barb had managed to move the bedridden Clouse out of the house and onto the porch. Bradford and Austin Clouse were then able to get Barb and Clouse down from the porch to safety before EMS arrived, Hensley said.
When emergency personnel and Southside Fire Department arrived at the scene, it was determined that both Barb and Clouse had suffered what Hensley described as “extreme burns.” MedicOne Ambulance Service began treating the injured parties and transported them to the Temple Hill Community Watch building where they were then taken by Wings Air Rescue to the Johnson City Medical Center (JCMC). Hensley said Barb and Clouse were then transferred from JCMC to a burn center in Wake Forest, N.C.
Clouse died around 8 a.m. Thursday morning, Hensley said. Barb was treated in the burn unit.
“She is not out of the woods yet,” Hensley said on Monday, Dec. 15.
The residence, as well as several vehicles were destroyed in the blaze. Dogs and farm animals kept near the house were rescued.
“Southside did the best they could,” Hensley said. “The home was more or less gone when they arrived.”
The location of the residence prevented a fire truck from getting close enough to battle the fire, which forced firefighters to run water hoses from the highway. With the temperature dropping below freezing Thursday morning, water used to battle the blaze created ice on the roadway, according to Hensley. Trucks from the Tennessee Department of Transportation were called in to salt the road.
Both the Unicoi County Sheriff’s Department and the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office are investigating the cause of the fire. As of Monday, the cause had not been announced. Hensley said foul play is not suspected at this point and that the fire was probably accidental.
Hensley encouraged everyone to make sure they have working smoke detectors in their homes.
“I don’t know if there was a smoke detector in this home or not,” he added. “I cannot stress the importance of having smoke detectors in your home, especially if you have wood heat. It could save your life.”