Police investigating fatal fire in Central

Published 8:41 am Thursday, December 17, 2015

Police are investigating a fire and death that occurred in the early morning hours on Wednesday in the Central community.
Around 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, a structure fire was reported at 109 Townsend Circle, Johnson City, Carter County Sheriff Dexter Lunceford said. Officers of the Carter County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene along with firefighters from the Central Volunteer Fire Department and West Carter Volunteer Fire Department.
“Once firefighters were able to extinguish the flames, they entered the residence and located a male victim, later identified as Dale Stuart Townsend, 54, who had perished,” Lunceford said. “The cause of death has yet to be established.”
Criminal investigators of the Sheriff’s Office, the Carter County Coroner and the Tennessee State Arson Investigator were called to the scene of the fire as part of the investigation. Townsend’s body was taken to the Quillen College of Medicine for an autopsy.
Both the cause of the fire and the cause of Townsend’s death are under investigation at this time, Lunceford said.
As a matter of procedure, Lunceford said the fire and death are being treated as suspicious until it can be proven otherwise.
“We are going through all of the processes until we can determine the cause of the fire and the cause of death,” Lunceford said. “The cause of death will be determined during the autopsy.”
“There is nothing at this time to indicate any foul play,” he added. “Depending on what the cause of death is, that will determine what investigative steps we take from there.”

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