Logan County Family Mourns Father Lost In May Wildfires

Sunday, June 15th 2014, 11:04 pm
By: News 9

It's been five weeks since a massive wildfire broke out in Logan County. The blaze destroyed dozens of homes and took the life of a man, who leaves behind three daughters.

Tonya Barton says not a day goes by that she doesn't think of her father, 56-year-old Johnnie Knox, and her first Father's Day without him was especially difficult since the family used to always get together. More than a month after the devastating fire, Barton still can't believe he is gone.

"I come out here quite often. It's still depressing," Barton said.

Barton walks the very spot where her father's mobile home was once parked. Now, all that is left on the property are crosses, stuffed animals and a melted swing set. 

"He didn't think it would come this far. He said it would never get here," she said.

But it did, and Barton knew something was wrong the night of May 4.

"He's not answering his phone. No one's seen him. I went everywhere. I went to all the check stations and couldn't find him. So I knew he was there, I just refused to leave and waited for six hours."

Inside his charred home lying next to his dog Ellie, firefighters found Knox's body.

"He loved everybody. He helped where he could. He was a very good man," Barton said.

"Why, why couldn't he leave on time or exactly what happened? Nobody knows how the fire started or can answer any of those questions, or what was he thinking the last minute he was still alive, just things that will never been answered."

Knox let neighbors borrow his truck so they could get away as flames quickly approached their neighborhood. He had another car packed ready to go, but never made it back out. Knox was the only person who died in the wildfires that burned more than 3,200 acres.

"He helped everybody else and just couldn't get out in time," she said.

Knox won't see his three adult daughters or their children grow up. And on Father's Day, Barton deeply misses their talks.

"Not receiving that phone call from him, he would call often, and I don't have that anymore."

The family plans to turn Knox's land into a memorial garden. In order to raise funds to buy headstone, the family will hold a garage sale in July, they have an account set up at City National Bank and started a silent auction this week.

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