“Unless we have some mice smoking in there, I think it was deliberately set,” Lett said.
The fire was reported at 5:03 p.m.
Twenty-two men in nine units from Greenback Fire Department battled the blaze. Loudon County and Blount County sheriff’s offices assisted with traffic, Lett said. Blount County Rescue Squad also responded to the fire.
Brothers Thomas and Tony Armstrong, owners of the home, stood outside in an adjacent lot, watching as firefighters worked.
“My grandson came in and said the old house was on fire,” Thomas Armstrong said. “I grabbed a two-gallon bucket of water, thinking I was going to put it out.”
Armstrong discovered the futility of his actions when he hurried outside.
“This end was already rolling smoke,” he added. The home, he said, “was already falling down.”
The brothers used the home for storage. Neighbors reported hearing a boom, which Armstrong said more than likely was a can of kerosene stored in the house.
Chief Lett said investigators would investigate after the fire was out and had cooled down.