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The Great Smoky Mountain Journal

Staff, Wire Reports

Posted: Sunday, January 21, 2018 07:31 PM

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70-Year Old Grandfather Saves Family Of Five From Early Wednesday AM Fire That Kills Two Of The Family's Dogs

A family of five escaped a Knox County fire Wednesday morning.

Crews with Rural Metro, the Knox County Sheriff's Office, and the Knoxville Utilities Board were on the scene of the fire that was reported at 9:40 a.m. on Smith School Road. Authorities said two dogs were killed in the fire.

When crews arrived at the scene, they found a heavy fire on one side and through the roof of a single-wide mobile home.

According to local news reports the family's 70-year-old grandfather warned his loved ones as a propane heater burst into flames inside the home. After the family made their escape, a few of the grandfather's oxygen tanks reportedly exploded inside the home.

"I was thinking, 'Get out and call the fire department,'" Richard Branch told Knoxville's local CBS affiliate WVLT. "That's what I was thinking—get everyone out."

Branch said he had 20 oxygen tanks in the home. He said he believes the tanks exploded in the fire.

Officials said the use of working smoke detectors could not be verified Wednesday afternoon.

Investigators said the family's home of 22 years is a total loss. Now injuries were reported.

"I'm just glad I got out alive," Branch said. "That's the most important thing."