Honors: Oak Ridge firefighter receives national accreditation

Kerry Osborne

Kerry Osborne

The Center for Public Safety Excellence has notified Captain Kerry Osborne of the Oak Ridge Fire Department that he has received national accreditation as a fire officer.

The Center for Public Safety Excellence Inc., or CPSE, is a nonprofit organization that, for more than a decade, has helped local public safety agencies around the world streamline and improve the services they provide their communities, a press release said. Through its individual commissions, CPSE provides programs that include accreditation for fire and emergency service agencies and professional designations for senior-level fire and emergency service officers.

The press release said Osborne has worked in the emergency services field for more than 21 years and has been with the ORFD since 2007, serving as a captain since 2012. [Read more…]

Former Manhattan Project headquarters, Groves home damaged in fire

Luther Brannon Oak Ridge Turnpike House Fire

The historic Luther Brannon House was damaged, but no injuries were reported in this house fire on Oak Ridge Turnpike early Monday morning. Gen. Leslie R. Groves, commander of the top-secret Manhattan Project during World War II, once lived here, and he had his headquarters in this single-story bungalow, which was built in 1941 and soon acquired by the federal government.


Note: This story was last updated at 1 p.m. July 8.

A historic house that once served as a home and headquarters for Gen. Leslie R. Groves during the top-secret Manhattan Project in World War II was heavily damaged in a fire early Monday morning.

No injuries were reported in the house fire, which was reported at 1:36 a.m. Monday.

The one-story stone bungalow at 151 Oak Ridge Turnpike is known as the Luther Brannon House, and it’s just west of Melton Lake Drive and next to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Scientific and Technical Information. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and it was the first home in Oak Ridge to be privately owned.

Oak Ridge Fire Department Chief Darryl Kerley said it appears that the Monday morning fire started in the kitchen. Owner Danny Brannon and his daughter were returning from a movie when they found the home on fire. They opened the front door and found the home filled with hot, black smoke, an ORFD press release said. Brannon opened the basement door to find that area clear, but he found fire coming from the kitchen window in the back of the house. The family called 911.

“We have not been able to determine what the cause is,” Kerley said. The Fire Department is waiting for an insurance company, which is sending an investigator and claims adjuster, before continuing its investigation. [Read more…]

Guest column: Anderson communications center very busy during Tuesday storm

Anderson County Commission and Mark Lucas

Anderson County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Mark Lucas is pictured above at right during a special County Commission meeting in November. Also pictured are Anderson County Commissioners Rick Meredith, center, and Jerry White.

To All:

(Tuesday) evening was very, very busy. From 3 p.m. until 11 p.m., our communications center received 589 telephone calls, of which 143 were on 911. The overwhelming number of calls were between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m., when 365 calls came to our dispatch center. Of these 365 calls, 109 were on 911.

Comparing to last Tuesday from 3 p.m. until 11 p.m., we received 156 total telephone calls, of which 20 were on 911. The two-hour period from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. last week was only 41 total calls, of which five were on 911.

For the entire shift from 3 p.m. until 11 p.m., that was a 288 percent increase. For the two hours from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m., the increase was 790 percent.

We had four communications officers working (Tuesday) when the storm hit. A fifth came into work on her own to help out. Many of these 911 and non-emergency calls required dispatching of emergency personnel from law enforcement, fire, or EMS. Others required notifications to the state and county highway departments and the utility companies. It was non-stop for hours. [Read more…]

Late-night fire forces temporary evacuation of apartment building

Tara Hills Apartment Fire Evacuation

Oak Ridge Fire Department Capt. Kerry Osborne carries a child from a building that had to be evacuated at the Tara Hills apartment complex on Sunday night. The boy was still in the building with his mother and brother when the fire department arrived. (Photos courtesy ORFD)


A fire in a downstairs apartment at the Tara Hills apartment complex on Elmhurst Drive late Sunday night forced the temporary evacuation of roughly 24 apartments, authorities said.

The fire was reported to the Oak Ridge Dispatch office just before midnight, and multiple units from the Oak Ridge Fire Department were dispatched, a press release said. Fire department units arrived to find heavy smoke coming from one of the apartment buildings with several people still inside the building, the release said.

“The fire was on the first floor of the building, but hallways on the second and third floors quickly filled with smoke,” ORFD Deputy Chief Josh Waldo said. [Read more…]

Student lights desk on fire; RMS bomb threat appears unfounded, ORPD says

James T. Akagi

James T. Akagi

Note: This story was last updated at 3:58 p.m.

A 16-year-old student at the Alternative School used hand sanitizer and a lighter to ignite another student’s desktop on Wednesday, authorities said.

Students extinguished the fire, and the suspect was arrested at the Alternative School on Thursday. He was processed at the Oak Ridge Police Department on aggravated arson charges and taken to the Richard L. Bean Juvenile Detention Facility in Knoxville, a press release said.

In a separate incident, authorities determined that a report of an alleged bomb threat at Robertsville Middle School on Monday was unfounded, and no criminal charges are expected.

The ORPD said the desk was set on fire just before dismissal at the Alternative School on Wednesday. The Alternative School is next to the Oak Ridge High School and on the same campus. Staff at the Alternative School notified School Resource Office Sherrill Selby about the incident via e-mail. [Read more…]

Boat destroyed by fire on Norris Lake

Norris Lake Boat Fire

A boat was destroyed by fire on Norris Lake on Monday morning. (Photo by TWRA)

ANDERSONVILLE—A wakeboard boat caught fire and burned late Monday morning on Norris Lake shortly after being launched at Anderson County Park, state officials said.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency responded to the reported boat fire at about 11 a.m. Monday. The 2012 22-foot Supra wakeboard boat was being driven by an unidentified woman, and it was completely engulfed by a fire that started near the vessel’s engine when TWRA Wildlife Officer Jason Lankford responded.

The woman’s husband informed Lankford that he had just launched the vessel when his wife took the boat down the lake for a short ride while he was parking the vehicle. The man also noted that the engine’s power ventilation system, which is designed to help prevent boat fires, was being used as the vessel was launched. [Read more…]

Woman, two children escape Easter morning grease fire


An Oak Ridge woman and her two children escaped an Easter morning grease fire at this Wade Lane home. (Photos by Tom Scott)

Note: This story was last updated at 8:20 p.m.

An Oak Ridge woman and her two children safely escaped an Easter morning grease fire that started in a pan on a stove while she was preparing to fry chicken in a Wade Lane home.

But their home, one of four units in a two-story building, was likely destroyed, Oak Ridge Fire Department Chief Darryl Kerley said.

Still, resident Dee Crumm said she is just glad that she and her 13-year-old son Seth and 10-year-old daughter Shelby are okay.

“As long as the kids are okay, that’s what counts,” Crumm said. [Read more…]

Fire destroys home on Meadow Lane in Blair

Meadow Lane Fire in Blair

A home and its contents appeared to be destroyed in a Saturday night fire on Meadow Lane in Blair, fire photographer Tom Scott said.

The Blair Fire Department responded to the fire at about 10:40 p.m. Saturday. The initial report said flames were coming through the roof of the house on Meadow Lane, which is off Ollis Road near Dyllis-Springs Elementary School, Scott said. The school is in Roane County southwest of Oliver Springs and northwest of Oak Ridge.

But the house was completely on fire when the first fire engine arrived, Scott said. The Oliver Springs Fire Department was also dispatched on an automatic mutual aid call. Four engines, one tanker, and one rescue truck were on the scene. Water was shuttled from a hydrant on Ollis Road. [Read more…]

Lightning strike may have caused house fire on Graceland Road

Graceland Road Fire

A lightning strike may have caused a house fire on Graceland Road on Thursday morning. (Photos by Tom Scott)

A Thursday morning fire possibly started by a lightning strike likely destroyed a home in west Oak Ridge and caused a few hundred thousand dollars in damage, authorities said.

The residents of the home at 118 Graceland Road knew their home had been hit by lightning at about 4:30 a.m. Thursday, Oak Ridge Fire Department Chief Darryl Kerley said. They heard the strike and found siding blown off the side of their house. They used a ladder to climb on the roof and check the home. Then, they re-checked it later before the man who lived there went to work.

But at about 7:45 a.m. Thursday, neighbor Chris Wetherall reported the roof of the house was on fire. The female resident, Yvonne McClellan, remained asleep inside, Kerley said.

Wetherall went to the burning home and banged on the door until McClellan woke up and answered the door, Kerley said. Wetherall moved a pickup truck out of the home’s garage and turned off the power. He took McClellan next door to his house, where she was evaluated by the fire department and Anderson County Emergency Medical Services. [Read more…]

Clinton home damaged by chimney fire

Information from WYSH Radio

A chimney fire caused some minor damage to a home on Brandawyne Drive in Clinton on Monday afternoon.

Clinton firefighters responded to the home shortly after 3:45 p.m. after receiving a call of a chimney fire. Firefighters used water to extinguish the fire in the fireplace and sprayed water down the chimney from the roof as well, while also clearing the burning debris from inside the fireplace.

Damage was estimated at around $1,000, and no injuries were reported. Crews cleared the scene about an hour and 15 minutes after the first unit arrived.

Small fire at Clinton industrial plant injures none, damage minimal

Information from WYSH Radio

A fire broke out at the Techmer PM facility in Clinton late Wednesday afternoon. Officials said the call came in at around 5 p.m., and when Clinton firefighters arrived, they quickly determined that the fire was small and contained to the plant’s exhaust system.

No injuries were reported, and damage was limited. The exact cause of the fire is under investigation.

State: Sprinkler system saves lives in Oak Ridge assisted living fire

Patriot Park Assisted Living Fire

Firefighters remove water from Patriot Park Assisted Living on Gum Hollow Road after putting out a small bed fire Friday evening. The fire was kept in check by a sprinkler system before Oak Ridge firefighters arrived and extinguished the flames.

An Oak Ridge assisted living center is thankful for its sprinkler system after a fire broke out on the premises Friday, state officials said Wednesday. All residents were safely evacuated and property damage contained to one room because of the sprinkler system.

This news comes at the same time as investigators comb through the fire-devastated ruins of an assisted living community in L’isle Verte, Quebec. where 25 residents lost their lives. The major difference between the two fires is that the assisted living building in Oak Ridge was equipped with a working sprinkler system, a press release said.

“The damage to the building was minimal, and no residents were displaced,” Oak Ridge Fire Department Fire Chief Darryl Kerley said of the Friday evening fire at Patriot Park Assisted Living on Gum Hollow Road. “Without the sprinkler system, we believe the outcome would be very different.” [Read more…]