Man Charged With Starting Fire At Red Bank Quadraplex That Claimed Woman's Life

Thursday, November 28, 2013
Christopher Richard Wehunt
Christopher Richard Wehunt

A man has been charged with criminal homicide for allegedly starting a fire that destroyed a Red Bank quadraplex early Thanksgiving morning and claimed the life of a 51-year-old woman.

As a result of the investigation, Christopher Wehunt, 33, of 133 Goodson Avenue, Red Bank, was also charged with aggravated arson, felony reckless endangerment, felony vandalism, and two counts of reckless aggravated assault. 

Wehunt was booked into the Hamilton County Jail under a total bond of $750,000.

He was charged in June with public intoxication and disorderly conduct.

The victim was identified as Dewey Lee Rose, 51, a resident of the apartment building. 

Another person was injured after jumping from a bathroom window after the fire at the four-unit building.  

Firefighters in Red Bank responded to the blaze at 137 Hedgewood Dr. 20 minutes after dealing with a fire at 109 Miller Ave.

While Red Bank firefighters were still at the fire at Miller Avenue, there was a call to Hedgewood Drive. Red Bank firefighters responded to the scene and reported fire showing at the front door, window and at the back side of the building. 

Red Bank immediately requested a Mutual Aid response for additional units and manpower. The Signal Mountain Fire Department, Walden's Ridge Emergency Services, Dallas Bay Volunteer Fire Department, East Ridge Fire Department and Chattanooga-Hamilton County Rescue responded to assist Red Bank firefighters. 

Once on the scene, firefighters were told by other residents who lived at the Hedgewood quadraplex that someone was trapped in their apartment. Firefighters quickly conducted an interior attack to make entryway to the trapped victim. Once they found the victim, it was too late. Firefighters confirmed one fire fatality located upstairs of the 4 unit building.  

Hamilton County EMS transported the woman who jumped out of the window to Erlanger Hospital.

Another resident escaped out of a window and climbed down a tree. No other injuries were reported. 

The building is a total loss and damages are unknown at this time. 

The American Red Cross responded to the scene to help the four families that were displaced from their apartments. 

Red Bank Deputy Chief Brent Sylar reported that the two house fires are not related to each other.

It was 5 a.m. when Red Bank firefighters respond to the Miller Avenue fire. When firefighters arrived on the scene, they reported fire showing in the attic area. Firefighters conducted an interior attack and contained the fire within 20 minutes. 

The cause of the fire is undetermined and will be under investigation by the Red Bank Fire Department. The house is a total loss. 

The American Red Cross responded to the scene to assist the family with their immediate needs.

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