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June 6, 2014

Fire destroys veteran’s home

90-year-old man awakened by neighbor pounding on his door

CORBIN — By John L. Ross / Staff Writer

Ken Brimm woke up as usual in the pre-dawn hours of Thursday morning and began the ritual of preparing for work.

But everything that happened after that was far from usual — and it saved the life of a 90-year-old former Navy SEAL.

“When I got up to go to work, I could smell something burning,” Brimm said.

He checked around his home, and neighbors’ houses — and saw nothing.

“But as I was headed out — a little early actually — I saw flames shooting out of the eaves on the second story of the house,” Brimm said.

And then he went into action.

He got out of his vehicle, ran toward the house and began banging on the door.

“I wasn’t sure he could hear me — it took a while for him to answer the door,” Brimm said.

Finally the homeowner, former Navy SEAL George Crabtree, came to the door.

“Once I got him out we saw the fire wasn’t over the garage,” Brimm said, and he went to save Crabtree’s car. “When I went in to get the garage door open, I could hear the drywall cracking and breaking up.”

He said that once he, Crabtree and the vehicle were outside, it wasn’t long before the rest of the house burned.  “It was really quick,” he said.

“I was glad I could help him,” Brimm added. “He told me he was 90 years old and that he was a Navy SEAL — how many times does that happen when you can help them? Usually it’s the other way around.”

Oak Grove Volunteer Fire and Rescue Chief Kevin Gibbs said the fire was on Fifth Street Road near Black Diamond Road and Spring Hill Drive.

“We received the call at 4:44 a.m.,” Gibbs said, adding the call came in from a passerby “who stopped to assist.”

He said that Brimm’s actions “probably saved (Crabtree’s) life.”

He said Crabtree resided in the home alone and was not injured in the fire.

Gibbs said the fire was not considered suspicious, but the cause remains under investigation. “He (Crabtree’s) just lucky the guy (Brimm) stopped when he did,” Gibbs said.

Oak Grove Fire Department was the lead on this blaze, with assistance from Woodbine Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department crews. Also on the scene were crew members with Whitley County EMS and officer with Corbin Police Department.

 

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