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Fire victim died of smoke inhalation
Updated on: 01.29.13
The woman found dead inside a burned Nashville home Monday morning succumbed to smoke inhalation.

Chief Deputy Coroner Earl Piper released the cause of death for 60-year-old Cheryl D. Burris Tuesday afternoon after an autopsy conducted in Seymour. He did not know the exact time of her death, but said Burris had likely died by the time a school bus driver called 911 after seeing smoke pouring from the back of her home in downtown Nashville.

Piper noted that smoke inhalation can kill a person in a matter of minutes.

Brown County (Nashville) firefighters responded to 148 E. Washington St. after Brown County Schools bus driver Tom Cook smelled burnt plastic in the air while prepping his bus in the nearby parking lot at about 6 a.m.

Cook traced the odor to Burris’ home and called 911. When he walked to the front of the house, he discovered flames leaping from inside the single-story structure.

Cook began notifying neighbors at about the time Nashville Chief Deputy Ben Seastrom arrived on scene. The two of them began banging on the walls of Burris’ home, trying to wake anyone inside.

Cook said he navigated thick smoke billowing from the windows to get to the back door. The door was locked, and the handle was hot to the touch. He and Seastrom then backed away from the burning house, he said.

Brown County (Nashville) Volunteer Fire Chief Dallas “Dak” Kelp said firefighters had the fire extinguished in about 35 minutes. They had tried to get in the house after learning that someone may be inside, but a collapsing ceiling and intense flames forced them to retreat.

Fire destroyed a major portion of the home. Burris was found inside a bedroom at the back of the house.

Her neighbor, Wanda Reding, keeps watching Burris’ front porch, waiting for her to emerge for a friendly chat before heading off to work at the Brown County Inn. The sudden death of her friend has not sunk in.

“She was a real sweetheart,” Reding said. “She was one of those type of friends you knew was there if you needed her.”

They shared books, exchanged Christmas cards and watched each other’s cats when out of town.

Reding also complimented firefighters for protecting her home, about 10 feet away.

“God bless the firemen. They did a wonderful job,” she said. “They were miraculous. To me, they’re like angels.”

Reding thanked Cook’s quick thinking to alert neighbors. He accepted but downplayed his role.

“You see a fire, you call 911, and you knock on people’s doors. There’s nothing extraordinary about that,” Cook said. “Anybody else would have done the same thing. The next person in the bus lot would have done the same thing.”

An official cause of the fire has not been released by the Indiana Department of Homeland Security’s Division of Fire and Building Safety, which conducts fatal fire investigations throughout the state.

Bond-Mitchell Funeral Home is handling Burris’ funeral arrangements.

A memorial service is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday at the Brown County Inn.

Read her obituary by clicking here.

  • January 27
    Widowed group euchre party
    1 p.m. Sycamore Valley Community Center, 746 Memorial Drive
  • January 27
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • January 27
    Open 12-step meetings in New Bellsville area
    6 to 7 p.m. Harmony Baptist Church, 3999 Mt. Liberty Road, New Bellesville
  • January 27
    BC Election Board
    2 p.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • January 27
    BC Area Plan Commission
    6 p.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • January 28
    Jeff Foster at Hobnob restaurant
    6 to 8 p.m. Hobnob, 17 W. Main St.
  • January 28
    BC Sheriff's Merit Board
    4 p.m. Law Enforcement Center, 55 State Road 46 East
  • January 28
    BC Board of Zoning Appeals
    6 p.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • January 29
    Go Club at the library Thursdays
    3:30 to 5 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • January 30
    Bingo
    6 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • January 31
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • January 31
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Abe Martin Lodge, Brown County State Park
  • February 2
    Gnaw Bone Sewage District
    5:30 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • February 3
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • February 3
    Bean Blossom Regional Sewer Board
    7:30 p.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • February 4
    Lake Lemon Conservancy District annual meeting
    6 p.m. Benton Township Senior Center, 7616 E. State Road 45, Unionville
  • February 4
    Jeff Foster at Hobnob restaurant
    6 to 8 p.m. Hobnob, 17 W. Main St.
  • February 4
    Van Buren Township Advisory Board
    7 p.m. Van Buren trustee's office, 4748 Christianburg Road
  • February 5
    Jackson Township Board
    6 p.m. Jackson Fire Station, 4831 Helmsburg Road
  • February 6
    Bingo
    5 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • February 9
    Washington Township Trustees
    7 p.m. Parkview Church of the Nazarene, 1750 State Road 46 East
  • February 12
    BC Convention & Visitors Commission
    8:30 a.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • February 13
    Bingo
    5 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North.
  • February 14
    Free community breakfast at Sprunica church
    8 to 10 a.m. Sprunica Baptist Church, 3902 Sprunica Road
  • February 17
    Hamblen Trustee Board annual review
    6:30 p.m. 2314 Hickory Ridge Lane off Hornettown Road