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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.

  • April 26
    County history center dedication slated
    2 p.m. Brown County History Center, 90 E. Gould
  • April 26
    Wildflower foray slated at historic site
    TC Steele State Historic Site, 4220 T.C. Steele Road, Belmont
  • April 26
    'McFarland, USA' at the Playhouse
    4 p.m., 7 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • April 26
    Morel Festival gospel service at music park
    10 a.m. Bill Monroe Music Park, 5163 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • April 26
    Southern gospel quartet at Gnaw Bone church
    9 a.m. Country Gospel Music Church, 5181 State Road 46 East
  • April 26
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    Noon to 2 p.m. Brown County State Park, State Road 46 East
  • April 27
    BC Alcoholic Beverage Board
    11 a.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • April 28
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • April 28
    BC Convention & Visitors Bureau
    8:30 a.m. Brown County State Park, 1450 State Road 46 East (north entrance)
  • April 28
    BC Area Plan Commission
    6 p.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • April 28
    Open 12-step meeting in New Bellsville area
    8 p.m. Harmony Baptist Church, 3999 Mt. Liberty Road, New Bellesville
  • April 29
    BC Board of Zoning Appeals
    6 p.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • April 29
    Jeff Foster at Hobnob restaurant
    6 to 8 p.m. Hobnob, 17 W. Main St.
  • April 29
    Lake Lemon Conservancy District Board
    6 p.m. Benton Township Senior Center, 7606 State Road 45, Unionville
  • April 29
    BC Sheriff's Merit Board
    4 p.m. Sheriff's Office, Law Enforcement Center, 55 State Road 46 East
  • April 30
    Go Club at the library
    4 to 6 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • April 30
    WRAPS
    7 to 9 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • April 30
    Gospel jam & sing at Gnaw Bone church
    6:30 p.m. Country Gospel Music Church, 5181 State Road 46 East
  • May 1
    Bingo
    5 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • May 1
    Antique tractor, engine and machinery show at the fairgrounds
    7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Brown County 4-H fairgrounds
  • May 1
    'Back to the Future' at the Playhouse
    7 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • May 2
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • May 2
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Brown County State Park, State Road 46 East
  • May 2
    Morel Mushroom sale & festival at state park Nature Center
    10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Brown County State Park, 1450 State Road 46 East (north entrance)
  • May 2
    Antique tractor, engine and machinery show at the fairgrounds
    7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Brown County 4-H fairgrounds
  • May 2
    Spring Blossom Festival dance planned
    6 to 10 p.m. The Seasons Lodge, 560 State Road 46 East
  • May 2
    Spring Blossom Parade and food drive downtown
    11 a.m. downtown Nashville
  • May 3
    Read to a dog at the library
    2 to 3:30 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • May 3
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    Noon to 2 p.m. Brown County State Park, State Road 46 East
  • May 3
    'The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel' at the Playhouse
    4 p.m., 7 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • May 3
    Antique tractor, engine and machinery show at the fairgrounds
    7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Brown County 4-H fairgrounds
  • May 5
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • May 5
    Open 12-step meeting in New Bellsville area
    8 p.m. Harmony Baptist Church, 3999 Mt. Liberty Road, New Bellesville
  • May 6
    Jeff Foster at Hobnob restaurant
    6 to 8 p.m. Hobnob, 17 W. Main St.
  • May 7
    WRAPS
    7 to 9 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • May 7
    Gospel jam & sing at Gnaw Bone church
    6:30 p.m. Country Gospel Music Church, 5181 State Road 46 East
  • May 7
    BC photography club
    7 to 9 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • May 8
    Bingo
    6 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • May 9
    Free community breakfast at Sprunica church
    8 to 10 a.m. Sprunica Baptist Church, 3902 Sprunica Road
  • May 9
    Open house conducted at New Song
    9 to 11 a.m. New Song Mission, 7202 Keith Donaldson Road, Freetown
  • May 11
    BC Election Board
    2 p.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • May 13
    Jeff Foster at Hobnob restaurant
    6 to 8 p.m. Hobnob, 17 W. Main St.
  • May 14
    Local Coordinating Council
    8 a.m. Comm. Corrections Office, Suite B, lower level of Veterans Hall, 902 Deer Run Lane,
  • May 16
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Abe Martin Lodge, Brown County State Park
  • May 16
    Rock & mineral club
    6 p.m. Extension Office, 802 Memorial Drive at the fairgrounds
  • May 16
    Historic site hosts outdoor art contest
    7 a.m. to 4 p.m. TC Steele State Historic Site, 4220 T.C. Steele Road, Belmont
  • June 20
    Pollinator Awareness Day at state park Nature Center
    9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Brown County State Park, 1450 State Road 46 East (north entrance)