A 29-year-old White County man was found dead early Monday morning in a burning building near the Hall County line.
Ana Newberry, spokeswoman for the White County Fire Department, said firefighters were dispatched at 3:14 a.m. to a site on Smokey Mountain Drive off Wooten Road.
"When we arrived at what we thought was a barn fire, we realized it was a shop fire," she said.
Newberry said the garage-type structure, with about 500 feet of floor space, was not located close to any houses.
"People only called 911 because they heard explosions from the gas and paint cans that were stored inside the building," she said.
Newberry said firefighters battled the blaze from the outside because they assumed it was only a storage building.
"You would never have thought someone would be inside," she said.
But when a neighbor hinted that there might have been someone sleeping in the building, firefighters began to search and soon discovered a body.
White County coroner Ricky Barrett identified the victim as Chad Dalton, who apparently was living at that location.
Barrett’s Funeral Home will be handling the funeral. Arrangements were incomplete as of Monday afternoon.
Newberry said the cause of the fire still is under investigation, but there was no sign that it was deliberately set.
She said it was the first time in about four years that White County has had a fire fatality.