Daughter of Pike County fire victim says mother was her 'best friend"

By: Hillary Thornton, Tanner Hesterberg Email
By: Hillary Thornton, Tanner Hesterberg Email
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Update 4/8/13:

JOHNS CREEK, Ky. (WYMT) - The daughter of a Pike County woman who died in a house fire said her mother was her "best friend."

Rebecca Sue Blankenship, 41, is identified by family members as the person who died in the fire early Saturday morning at her home on Drift Branch Road in Johns Creek.

Blankenship's daughter, Ashley Blankenship, 20, said her mother "was the greatest person there ever was."

"She just meant everything to me," Blankenship said. "I mean she was my mom. Me and her were real close. We were best friends."

Blankenship said she is struggling to deal with the loss of her mother.

"I can barely sleep. I can barely eat," she said. "I wake up during the night squalling for her. I mean I just can't deal with it really."

Firefighters arrived at the home around 2:30 a.m. Saturday and put out the fire before being called back a few hours later. The second time is when they found Blankenship's body.

Gulnare Fire Chief Philip Smith said the second call likely came from a neighbor who saw the smoldering remains of the house and thought the structure might still be on fire.

"We immediately started to put out the fire and there wasn't a car present," Smith said. "And based on what I had at that time I did not believe that there was anybody in the house."

Firefighters did not search the house on the first call.

Smith said a search the first time would not have been enough to save Rebecca Sue Blankenship's life, but he still wishes he could do it over.

"Of course," Smith said."But it was a decision I made...hindsight is 20/20."

Investigators have not said what caused the fire.

The body is in Frankfort for an autopsy.

Original story, 4/6/13:

PIKE COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - Pike County fire officials responded to their second fatal fire in less than one week on Saturday.

Firefighters with the Gulnare Volunteer Fire Department say they were dispatched to Drift Branch road twice Saturday morning.

Gulnare Chief Philip Smith says, "Originally got the call about 2:30, there was no one on scene, no car, we originally thought there was nobody in the house."

Chief Smith says they put out the fire and left the scene around 6 a.m., they were then called back out to the location just after 9 a.m. when a neighbor noticed the fire had started back up.

Smith explains,"A neighbor came down and said he thought there was someone in the house when we arrived and within ten minutes we found the deceased."

Kentucky State Police Trooper Charles Shannon Jones says, "We have the state fire marshal, state arson investigator, and our detective from Post 9, all investigating because it is undetermined the origin of the fire, or if it was arson, or if it was an accidental fire at this point."

Fire officials say scenes like this have become far too common across the state but particularly Pike County. Deputy State Fire Marshal David Broderick says, " We have had a lot of residential fires lately and the State Fire Marshal's Office is very concerned."

Broderick says it is alarming the amount of homes without the first line of defense...a smoke detector. "Fire departments within Pike County and the Pike County Firefighters Association are working diligently to prevent fires through a smoke detector giveaway program."

Fire officials do not believe the home on Drift Branch had a working smoke detector. The fire remains under investigation. Family members on scene did not want to make a comment, the victim's name has not been released.

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