Family, friends grieve loss of young couple in Birchwood, Tenn., house fire

Family, friends grieve loss of young couple in Birchwood, Tenn., house fire

October 17th, 2017 by Emmett Gienapp in Local Regional News

On Monday afternoon, yellow tape blocked a steep driveway leading to the remains of a home where a teenage couple died in a fire the day before.

The victims of Sunday's fire in Birchwood, Tenn., have been identified as Logan Kennedy, 18, and Katelyn Woods, 19, but it's still unclear how the fire started and why the pair was unable to escape.

Highway 58 volunteer firefighters arrived at the home on the 12100 block of Dolly Pond Road around 6 p.m. to find it was "fully involved" in flames. They spent the next several hours containing the fire, according to the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office. Shortly after, investigators entered the home and found the two victims.

A family member, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak on behalf of the family, said Kennedy had been staying at his grandparents' house with Woods, his girlfriend.

He said the family was alerted to the fire after a 10-year-old boy ran to a nearby house, calling out for help.

"He came running to the neighbor's house, yelling, 'Call 911, our house is on fire,'" he said. "I don't know how fast I ran, I got up there so quick. We were trying to call 911, but sometimes you have no cell service out here."

The house and two nearby cars were engulfed in flames by the time family reached the scene. Kennedy's grandparents had gotten out, along with three children, but they didn't see Kennedy's car and hoped he wasn't inside.

"We didn't even know Logan was in the basement," he said. "It's horrible. We're doing the best we can, but you don't expect it to happen to you."

By the time he was able to contact authorities, dispatch operators told him they already had received several calls and sent firefighters. A police officer was one of the first to arrive on scene, and a family member told him there might still be people inside the home.

"The first thing he did was grab a fire extinguisher and run off into a fully engulfed house," he said.

Six hours later, when the flames were gone and the bodies had been found, the family and their small community began picking up the pieces.

Jean Holder, a neighbor and member of the church Kennedy's family attended, said the congregation will do all they can to help.

"They're a fine family. I've known them all their lives. When I heard, I called the preacher and he was already up there," she said.

She said she had been told the victim's uncle was taking a nap when he was awakened by the smell of smoke. He got the children out of the home, but he couldn't make it into the basement.

"He had already breathed in so much of that black smoke and he couldn't get down there," Holder said. "The paramedics gave him oxygen and kept checking on him. It's just a sad, sad situation, and they're good, good people."

The cause of the fire is still under investigation by the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office and the Highway 58 Volunteer Fire Department. The bodies have been taken to the Hamilton County Medical Examiner's Office for examination.

Contact staff writer Emmett Gienapp at egienapp@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6731. Follow him on Twitter @emmettgienapp.


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