(Henning, TN) A fire that killed a disabled, bedridden woman in Henning, Tenn., is being called an accident.
The victim, 63-year-old Dorothy Newbern, suffered from multiple sclerosis and was unable to escape the fire that destroyed her home Thursday night on Virginia Street.
Johnathan Crowell, her live-in boyfriend who was also her caregiver, left the home shortly before the fire and walked to a nearby store.
He returned to find the house burning and Newbern trapped.
Newburn had been confined to a wheelchair for more than a decade.
Newbern’s cousin, Rosalind Palmer, lives across the street from the burned out home.
“I heard popping noises and sirens and stuff. And when I looked out the window the house was inflamed,” said Palmer.
Crowell left the house around 8 p.m. Thursday and walked to the Dollar General store a few blocks away.
In the time he was gone, the fire started in the kitchen.
An investigator with the Tennessee Fire Marshal’s office found one of the knobs on the stove in the ‘on’ position.
Rosalind Palmer said the fire appears to have been an accident.
“I just think it was carelessness on his part. And it’s just horrible for anyone to die like that,” said Palmer.
Before firefighters got on the scene, Crowell used two fire extinguishers and a garden hose to try to put out the fire.
He cut his hand breaking out a window to try to reach Newbern, who died in one of the bedrooms.
The fire is being called a “tragic accident” and Johnathan Cowell will not be charged with a crime.
Henning, Tennessee Police Chief Joe Ferguson said he’s trying to get assistance for Johnathan Crowell, who not only lost a friend, but everything he owned.
“We’re trying to get him some help from the Red Cross. Right now the man doesn’t have a home. He’s on medication, doesn’t have his medication. We have to go through a lot of red tape to get his medication replaced,” said Chief Ferguson.