Updated: 07-30-2004 02:57:02 PM

Two Tennessee Firefighters Hailed As Heroes, Injured Battling House Fire

MELISSA N. WARREN
Courtesy of The Review Appeal Franklin, Tennessee

Two Franklin firefighters are being hailed as heroes after they were injured yesterday at a house fire in the Founder’s Pointe subdivision.

“He could have been in real trouble,” said Acting Fire Chief Jamie Geer. “He only had a matter of moments.”

Firefighters Jonathan Jenkins and Kyle Bess were both treated for minor burns at Williamson Medical Center after Jenkins fell through a hole in the kitchen during the house fire at 212 Tyne Drive.

“They were searching for the location of the fire,” Geer said. “Jonathan said he was actually on his hands and knees with the thermal imaging camera. When he raised up to look at it, putting all his weight on his knees, he fell right through the floor.”

From Bess’ point of view, though, Jenkins simply vanished.

“Kyle said Jonathan just disappeared completely,” Geer said. “Jonathan was able to turn himself around, reach up out of the hole and Kyle just reached in there and grabbed him. It takes a pretty brave act to reach out and pull your brother fire fighter out a hole of fire.”

Crews reported that the flames from the hole were up to six feet tall. Luckily, the Franklin Fire Department has invested in the best protective gear, Geer said, but it was actually that same gear that caused the burns on Jenkins’ arm.

“Their protective clothing gets really hot, but as long as it’s not touching the skin, it won’t burn you,” he said. “But when Kyle squeezed the arm around Jonathan to pull him up, it burned ... all injuries were minor, though.”

Meanwhile, officials continued to investigate and fight the fire as new owner Jill Bennett and her mother, Betty Brown of Hendersonville, looked on. Both Mayor Tom Miller and Police Chief Jackie Moore arrived on the scene, as did Bennett’s husband, Chuck, who had gone back to work after closing on the house.

“It’s just one of those freak things that happens,” said Miller. “They were just moving in boxes today.”

According to preliminary investigation, Jill Bennett and her mother had been moving clothing and several boxes into the home before taking a break. While they were gone, Middle Tennessee Electric Corp. reconnected the power. When the women returned, they found the home full of smoke.

Bennett immediately called police at 2:11 p.m., just hours after she and her husband had closed on the home. The family, who resided in Cheatham County for 13 years prior to yesterday, have four children ranging from 10 years to 19 months old. Luckily, the children are at their other grandparents’ home, the maternal grandmother said.

“I’m glad the children are not home because this would be very traumatic,” Brown said. “Neither Jill or Chuck has ever had any problems with fires, none of us have, but it could have been a lot worse. The way it is now, there’s a hole in the floor, but the entire house could have been in flames.”

Both Bennett and her mother said they felt sure nothing was on when they left to get another load of boxes.

“We had all the clothes in the closets, and I had put a box on the stove,” Bennett said. “But I didn’t know it was turned on. Nothing was working when we left.”

Geer said that the department has confirmed Middle Tennessee Electric turned off the power for the old homeowners at approximately 9 a.m. yesterday morning, and then turned it back on around 12 p.m. for the Bennetts.

“This is just an awful thing to have happen on move-in day,” said Moore.
Photo below

Jim Rodriguez / The Review Appeal

Franklin firefighters respond to a structure fire at 212 Tyne Drive in Founder’s Pointe of Franklin yesterday. Heavy smoke poured out of the front door and windows as firefighters worked to control the fire.
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