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Fire destroys house with moonshine still in basement

Sullivan County Sheriff's deputies are investigating a house fire in Blountville, Tennessee after renters set up a moonshine still in the basement without the owner's knowledge. (Photo credit: WCYB)

BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. - Sullivan County Sheriff's deputies are investigating a house fire in Blountville, after renters set up a moonshine still in the basement without the owner's knowledge.

Homeowner Vernon Rollers said the renters never told him the house was on fire. He drove by his rental home Thursday morning, only to see it had burned down.

"I didn't find out ‘til yesterday morning,” Rollers said. “I was going to get a haircut and happened to look over here and see the house had been burnt."

As he looked through the ashes, he found something that surprised him.

"Well I could see in the floor in there it looked like a still,” Roller said. “Then I got a hold of the sheriff's department and finally got them over here yesterday and then told them I wanted an investigation on it, so that's when they dug it out."

Roller said the fire damage was especially bad around where it had been set up. According to the police report, a renter told deputies the still was meant as a decoration.

"He stated that he went downstairs to the basement to check the breaker - that it had gone off - that he went to check the breaker,” Public Information Officer Kristen Quon said. “When he went back up he started to smell smoke, and that's when the house caught fire."

Roller said his wife went to the house every month, and they never suspected there was a still inside. He believes the house will be a total loss.

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