House fire kills Whitwell resident Wednesday night, was cousin of responding firefighter

Image: WTVC

Authorities are investigating after a house fire that happened in Whitwell Wednesday night that killed one person, according to the Crossroads Volunteer Fire Department.

Authorities have not yet identified the victim. but have confirmed the victim is a family member of a local firefighter.

The fire broke out Wednesday night at a home on the 4400 block of Alvin York Highway.

Firefighters arrived back at the scene shortly after it rekindled.

Reporter Brandon Evans went live on Facebook from the scene:

For one firefighter, this wasn't a typical fire.

Whitwell firefighter Jonathan Maxwell hoped his cousin Jaimie wasn't inside.

"We always played together, always fought together, always ate together, did family events together, went to church," Maxwell said.

Then, his worst fears were realized.

"I couldn't imagine happen to him...and I wish I had been here with him to get him," Maxwell said.

Maxwell was there last night when the flames first broke out inside the home.

He said he knew what he might see. But somehow, he manged to summon the strength to keep fighting the fire.

"You just have to block it out. Just go with it and charge through," Maxwell said.

But there was nothing he nor any of the firefighters could do.

It was too late.

"We took him (Maxwell), once we knew for sure, put him in one of the trucks and sent him home with the rest of the family. No point in putting him through continuing to work the fire after he knew it was a family member," Crossroads Assistant Fire Chief Charles McEntyre said.

But Maxwell did come back, Thursday morrning, when the fire sparked back up.

Many of his family members turned out to show their support.

Meanwhile, his other family, his fellow firefighters, are douing what they can to help him cope.

"I've had some of the best support of my life," Maxwell said.

This is a developing story. Depend on us to bring you updates as we get them.

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