12-year-old killed in early morning house fire

Janie Slaven | CJ

Twelve-year-old Hunter Ray Wesley was killed early Wednesday morning trying to rescue his dog from a fire that destroyed his family's home on Keeney Road in Science Hill.

A 12-year-old boy is dead following an early morning house fire in Science Hill.

Pulaski County Coroner Clyde Strunk confirmed Wednesday afternoon that Hunter Ray Denney had been trapped in one of the bedrooms of the home on Keeney Road.

According to Science Hill Fire Chief Josh Whitis, his department was dispatched to the fire with possible entrapment just before 4 a.m. Wednesday morning.

Firefighters arrived to find heavy fire conditions requiring what Chief Whitis called an exterior attack. A total of four departments responded with Science Hill being assisted by firefighters from Dabney, Somerset and Eubank. By the time they were able to get inside the home, Chief Whitis said, it was too late to save Hunter.

"From what I can gather from the grandfather, he went back inside for a dog," the chief said. "He was found in a bedroom; I'm not sure if it was his or not."

The chief added that a total of four dogs were found deceased inside the home. There had been a heat lamp on the back deck to keep the family's cats warm.

"It very possibly could have started there," Chief Whitis said, though he added that the investigation into the official cause has been turned over to the State Fire Marshal's Office. "High winds helped drive the fire this morning."

Firefighters were on scene for about six hours, he added.

Hunter's parents, Ashley and Tyrone Wesley, and his five-year-old sister were able to escape the fire, though Mrs. Wesley was taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation. Chief Whitis could not say if she suffered smoke inhalation when the fire first broke out or if she had tried to go back for her son.

At press time, no patient information was available for Ashley Wesley.

Coroner Strunk told the Commonwealth Journal that his office was called out around 4:40 a.m. and the fire was still active upon their arrival.

"It was totally engulfed," Strunk said. "We waited until the State Fire Marshal's Office arrived to retrieve the decedent."

Coroner Strunk said the boy was transported to Frankfort for autopsy as part of standard procedure but that the preliminary investigation pointed to a tragic accident.

Funeral arrangements were not yet available.

To donate, visit GoFundMe: "Wesley Family Funeral and Life Expense Fund," (https://tinyurl.com/y8kqwc6p)