Man Killed In Lawrence County House Fire

LAWRENCEBURG, Tenn. - A Lawrence County man was killed in a house fire Sunday morning, and the cause remained under investigation.

Firefighters went to the home in the 1200 block of Ethridge Red Hill Road around 3:30 a.m. after a woman driving by saw the flames and called 911.

Sunday afternoon, friends and family stood by the scene as multiple agencies investigated.

Rita Newton said she had been friends with the victim for decades.

"The house was just all gone," Newton said.

The victim was identified as 50-year-old Connis Ray Blake by the Lawrence County Sheriff's Office. Around town, he went by "Butch."

"He was crazy," said Pam Johnson. "He could get on your nerves, but that was my brother. I loved him. He helped anybody."

Johnson cried as they looked at old photos of Butch.

"I can't even breathe right now," Johnson said.

The victim's stepdaughter said Butch's wife recently died.

"But it's also sad to lose another family member. One after the next," Cassandra Knuckles said.

They feel in their hearts the fire is suspicious.

Johnson was texting her brother just hours before the fire started.

"He was wanting me to come out because he was by himself," Johnson said. "He didn't like being alone."

They're concerned that Butch was afraid of someone. At this time, they're not able to offer up any other details due to the ongoing investigation.

"Whoever done this, they'll find them," Johnson said.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation assisted the Lawrence County Sheriff's Office with the investigation.

Captain Adam Brewer said firefighters had a tough time battling the blaze.

"In this situation, this house fire got extremely hot due to gas lines and a few other things," Captain Brewer said.

Brewer said it's protocol to call in the State Fire Marshal's Bomb and Arson team to assist them with fatal fire investigations. Right now, they have not ruled the fire as suspicious.

"I don't think that's the case in this situation," Brewer said. "He does have a past history of drug sales and drug charges, but at this time, I don't have any reason to believe that's related to this. But that's one reason we do want to rule this out."

As evidence is analyzed, Butch's family has been trying to come to terms with the loss of their loved one.

"He wasn't perfect. Ain't none of us perfect, but he was a good guy," Johnson said.

Butch worked at a shop in downtown Lawrenceburg and was well known in the community.

If you have been in contact with him in recent days, the Lawrence County Sheriff's Office would like to speak with you. They can be reached at 931-762-3626.

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