Eldery Couple Dies in Townsend House Fire

By: Stephen McLamb, Blount County Bureau
By: Stephen McLamb, Blount County Bureau

We now know the identities of the two people who died in a Tuesday morning house fire in Townsend.

Neighbors and published reports say 92-year-old Glynne Roy Rook and his 82-year-old wife Paige died in the fire.

Firefighters found their Davis Road home fully engulfed in smoke and flames when they arrived this morning.

Both Townsend volunteer firefighters and the Blount County Fire Department responded to the call.

Residents say the couple pretty much kept to themselves. But the people that know them say they chose Townsend to retire from Illinois 20 years ago and live out the rest of their lives.

When firefighters arrived to the Townsend home on Davis Road, they found the same thing neighbors did moments earlier.

"The house was already engulfed with flames so there was no way I could get to them,” says Phyllis Atchlety.

Eighty-two-year-old Paige Rook was found quickly as her husband remained missing. Those who knew them say they had an extensive collection of antiques which firefighters say helped make their search for the husband difficult.

“There’s a lot of contents in the house so it’s just difficult for our firefighters to get through,” says Blount County Fire Chief Doug McClanahan.

In all, it took about four hours to get the fire completely extinguished as there were no fire hydrants nearby.

“We have to do tanker shuttle on probably 99 percent of our territory,” explains Townsend Volunteer Fire Department Chief Don Stallions.

Those who lived near the Rooks say they were very much to themselves, but those how knew them say they finally moved to the area about twenty years ago from Illinois.

“They fell in love with Townsend and we fell in love with them and they decided to spend the rest of their life here,” says Bobbie Webb.

But in the last few years, friends say they battled health problems.

“I’d always take them Thanksgiving dinner and Easter dinner, Valentines, anytime we had a cookout I always visited and made sure they had food,” Atchley says the couple leaves behind a grandson who lived next door. “It really hurt me. But they are wonderful people to know and I’m going to take care of their grandson till his sister gets here.”

McClanahan says he is unsure if there were smoke detectors in the home.

Officials believe the fire began in the basement and was stemmed from an electrical problem.

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