Burned again: Duo attempts to dismantle house, accidentally sets it on fire

By Kristen Tribe | Published Wednesday, July 30, 2014

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An unoccupied mobile home caught fire in Newark Tuesday morning as two men were attempting to dismantle the structure.

Smoldering Heap

SMOLDERING HEAP – Firefighters check the rubble of a mobile home for hot spots Tuesday morning. Three fire departments were called to County Road 4845 to battle a blaze at the unoccupied trailer. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Newark, Rhome and Haslet fire departments were called to the 100 block of County Road 4845 to battle a blaze that was reported shortly after 7:30 a.m.

Wise County Deputy Fire Marshal J.C. Travis said Mickey Murphrey and his nephew, Brett Kennan, were attempting to tear apart the empty house, which was already extensively damaged from a previous fire. In a bizarre turn of events, the house caught fire again, this time burning to the ground.

Murphrey’s mother and Kennan’s grandmother, Bonnie Garrett, had lived in the trailer until June 21 when a kitchen fire severely damaged the structure.

Travis said that fire started when Garrett was attempting to boil eggs. She turned on the wrong burner, accidentally heating a pot holding leftover grease instead of the pan with water and eggs. She left the room after turning on the burner and became aware of the fire only when the smoke alarm went off.

She escaped uninjured, but the house was ruined with extensive smoke and water damage.

Travis said the insurance company paid a claim for the burned home.

Last weekend a new double-wide mobile home was moved to the property. The burned house was pulled to the front of the site, next to a third mobile home occupied by Brett Kennan and his father, Tommy Kennan Jr, who is also Garrett’s son.

Travis said the family planned to dismantle the burned home, salvage what they could and then dispose of what remained. Their plan of action included placing a burn barrel on either end of the home. They worked inside Monday, tearing things apart and throwing pieces from the house into the barrels.

They lit the contents of the barrels early Tuesday morning, continuing to work inside and throw debris into the flames.

At some point, Travis said they decided to just pull the house apart. They ran a cable through the house and attached it to a pickup truck.

“Somehow, when they were pulling on it with the truck, something caught fire,” Travis said. “There was no electricity to it, but as best I can tell, while they were playing with the cable, something in the burn barrel got the underside of the trailer to burn.

“As they were trying to pull it, they noticed smoke,” he said. “That’s when they panicked. They tried to fight it with a garden hose while the sister called 911.”

Lisa Bryson, sister to Murphrey and Kennan Jr., was visiting and helping their mother get moved into the double-wide.

The family could only watch as firefighters attempted to put the fire out and keep it from spreading to the other homes on the property.

The windows of the mobile home occupied by the Kennans broke due to radiant heat, and the underpinning on that home also melted. Travis said the electrical meter was damaged, as was the wire that runs from the house to the utility pole. Wise Electric Cooperative was called to the scene to repair those items.

Garrett’s house was not damaged and neither was an A-frame home also on the property. The A-frame is occupied by Tommy Kennan Sr., Garrett’s ex-husband and Tommy Jr.’s father.

Travis said no charges will be filed. The family will be responsible for removing the debris from the property.

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