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Couple and adult son found dead in North Knox house fire | News

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Couple and adult son found dead in North Knox house fire
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Neighbor April Wilkerson compared the sound to that of a burning Christmas tree -- only a thousand times worse.

"It was cracking and popping and it was awful," Wilkerson told 10News on Thursday outside what little remained of the North Knox County home of James and Edith Overton.

"I knew. Even before anything was said. I knew. Because they were older people. There is absolutely no way they could have gotten out of that house."

Fire authorities say James Overton, 73, Edith Overton, 64 and their adult son Derek Overton, 47, died in the fire, reported about 6:30 a.m. Authorities say the son had special needs.

A medical examiner will confirm the identities of the three bodies.

Wilkerson said she called 911 after she and her husband were awakened Thursday morning by a noise that sounded "like tree falling."

"And so my husband ran out the front door. And the next thing I know he's screaming, 'Honey! Their house is on fire! Their house is on fire! Call 911!' "

The cause is being investigated. Temperatures overnight dipped into the single digits.

Knoxville Fire Department Capt. D.J. Corcoran said flames could be seen from Callahan Road.

The Overton house sits at the corner of Keck and Lacy roads near Callahan. The blaze was so hot and so strong Wilkerson said they couldn't have gone in to pull out the victims.

She described the Overtons as a "really nice, older family" who they'd often visit with while out in the yard. She also often saw their grandchildren at the home.

"It's heartbreaking. What's sad is that I've lived here 11 years and I didn't really know them except passing in the yard," she said.

When Knoxville firefighters arrived, flames were shooting through the roof. Officials said several cars were in the driveway, leading them to believe that someone may have been home when the fire started.

KFD so far this year has responded to fires involving four fatalities, he said."The weather conditions definitely played a role in this fire," Corcoran said. "This morning the temperatures were around 2 degrees. So we had some issues with ice freezing on the roads and becoming a trip hazard."

"That's off to a bad start for us. We like to keep it around zero. That's a hard pill to swallow for us."

It took a while for it to be safe enough for firefighters to search the rubble for victims. While the flames were out, what was left of the structure was in danger of collapse.

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