Four Children Killed in Friendsville Fire

By: Stephen McLamb, Bureau Chief
By: Stephen McLamb, Bureau Chief

Friendsville, Blount County (WVLT) - A fire that claimed the lives of four children started around five this morning at a home on Miser Station Road in the Friendsville Community of Blount County.

WVLT Blount County Bureau Chief Stephen McLamb was on the scene just minutes after the call came into dispatchers.

Family, friends and community religious leaders confirm the names of the children who were killed, they are 14-year-old Mandolin, 12-year-old Jerry, 10-year-old Sinjin and 7-year-old Shelby.

Rescue personnel rushed to the scene on miser station road after emergency calls from Ross and Amanda Debuty that their house was on fire.

Initial reports around 6:00 a.m. were bad.

"Confirmed one is deceased the other 3 have not been found at this point," Blount County Sheriff James Berrong said early in the morning.

But a firefighter's worst nightmare became a reality later in the morning.

"We were able to locate the victims and 4 children did perish in the fire," Blount County Fire Chief Doug McClanahan reported.

Children ages 7, 10, 12 and 14 died.

"All the victims were upstairs that appears to be where the fire started and 3 people downstairs escaped," Sheriff Berrong said.

The Sheriff says another family member was taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

"Just a big blaze fire, I mean it light the whole place up," says Bugs Pointon.

Neighbors say there was nothing anyone could have done. It's a tragic loss for the family.

"I don't know what to think, I can't express myself. You know it's such an awful thing that has happened," Jewel McDaniel, a distant relative.

And for those who tried to save them.

"You'll see a lot of grown people, they do cry and it may not affect them but several hours or days after this and you're going to remember this forever," says McClanahan.

Investigators say they do not yet know what started the fire.

They do say they believe there were fire extinguishers in the home but are unsure if they were working properly.

You Can Help the Debuty Family

The family lost everything in the fire and, as you can imagine, is in need of several items, including clothes and personal items.

Ross Debuty is in need of Dickies-style overalls size 48x32, size 3x shirts and size 12 shoes.

Amanda Debuty is in need of size 3x shirts and pants and size 11 shoes.

The couple's 2-year-old son wears size 4T, pull-ups in size 3-4T and size 9 shoes. Due to a skin problem the child has, he can only wear 100% cotton items.

All clothing donations can be made to the Red Cross in Maryville. You can call the Red Cross at (865) 983-0821.

READ MORE: Friendsville Community Trying to Cope with Tragedy


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