Fire leaves 1 dead; arson suspected in another case

Fire leaves 1 dead; arson suspected in another case
Union City police are investigating a pair of tragic fires that occurred over the weekend.
Jerry Allen Pope, 55, died early Saturday in a fire that broke out at his duplex home on North Division Street in Union City.
Meanwhile, police are also investigating an unrelated suspicious fire that occurred about four hours earlier late Friday night, displacing a woman and a 5-year-old child from their home.
In the fatal fire, police responded about 3:30 a.m. Saturday to a report of a house fire at 700 North Division St. Firefighters from the Union City Fire Department were already on the scene and were working to extinguish the fire, according to a Union City Police Department report.
Union City Fire Chief Kelly Edmison said there was smoke and some fire when firefighters arrived on the scene and some witnesses told news media that not many flames were visible.
A police officer said as he exited his patrol vehicle, someone indicated there should be someone inside the residence. The information was relayed to the fire department and firefighters were already inside searching for occupants, according to the report.
Police said Pope was rescued from the residence a few minutes later and emergency personnel started cardiopulmonary resuscitation. He was taken by ambulance to the emergency room of Baptist Memorial Hospital-Union City, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
Police investigator Chris Cummings said the fire remains under investigation today, but said it looks to be accidental and does not appear to be arson.
Cummings said the fire was reported by the neighboring family in the duplex. They escaped without injury.
Funeral arrangements for Pope were incomplete at press time and will be announced by Rawls Funeral Home in Union City.
Apparent arson
The other fire which remains under investigation by police was reported at 10:49 p.m. Friday at Charlotte Turner’s residence at 919 East Vine St. in Union City.
Edmison said the house was fully involved by fire when firefighters arrived.
Police reported fire officials indicated the fire was suspicious in nature, with two separate ignition points in the residence. The cause of ignition was unknown at the time of the report.
Cummings said Ms. Turner’s residence was burglarized one day last week, with some electronics items taken, and the tires on her vehicle were slashed another day. All of these incidents also remain under investigation.
Cummings said Ms. Turner and a 5-year-old boy she is raising were displaced and lost virtually everything in the fire. He has started an effort to collect donations to help them and planned to call The Messenger later today with a telephone number and bank information for anyone who would like to donate.
He said several items have already been received and a yard sale will be planned to sell the surplus items, with proceeds to go to Ms. Turner and the little boy.
“They just need anything at all at this point,” he said.
An investigator from the state fire marshal’s office was in Union City today to investigate both weekend fires.
Rural run
The busy weekend for Union City firefighters actually began Friday morning when they responded to a residential fire at 1070 Beech Chapel Road near Union City.
Edmison said the double-wide modular home was fully involved by fire when firefighters arrived on the rural scene after receiving the call at 8:50 a.m. Firefighters from Troy and Rives also assisted in extinguishing the blaze and firefighters remained on the scene for several hours.
The official fire report was not yet available at press time today and the name of the occupant was not provided by fire officials. The home was heavily damaged, but no injuries were reported.
“The crew handled everything well that shift. They were stretched to the limits,” Edmison said today. Published in The Messenger 11.21.11

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