By John L. Ross / Staff Writer
The identity of the owner of a home ravaged by fire Tuesday was finally revealed.
Kevin Gibbs, chief of the Oak Grove Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department, said Juanita Barnett owns what’s left of the residence at 319 Lee Lane.
But as far as a cause — Gibbs said that remains unknown right now.
“The fire is still under investigation (and has been) referred to the insurance company’s investigator for a cause and origin.”
While the cause of the early morning blaze is a mystery — it is not considered an arson. “(There’s) nothing suspicious (about the fire) at this time,” Gibbs said.
No one was home Tuesday when firefighters got the call of a blaze on Lee Lane, off of Bee Creek Road in Whitley County.
Crew members from three fire departments responded to the blaze — Oak Grove Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department, Woodbine Volunteer Fire and Rescue, and Baldrock Volunteer Fire and Rescue.
Thick, black plumes of smoke rolled into the crisp winter morning — drivers and others from miles away could see fire’s devastation taking over just after 8:30 a.m.
Once crews were at the scene It appeared that the fire began toward the back of the home and spread upward into the ceiling and roof and forward into the front rooms of the home.
The house was a complete loss — the front and back porches are the only parts of the home that remain. Seeing inside the burned-out shell in the aftermath of the fire, a space heater was clearly visible toward the back of the residence — although, as Gibbs said, a cause has yet to be determined.
At the time, Gibbs said the owner of the residence was difficult to determine. Two disabled vehicles were in the driveway of the house — a white Jeep Cherokee and a four-door Hyundai. There is also a residence within 500 feet of the burned house, but no one appeared to be home there.
Crews spent more than three hours battling the blaze Tuesday. Also at the scene were crew members with Whitley County EMS.