Mom, 12-year old son killed in Chesterfield house fire

By Melissa Correa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) – A failure in an electrical socket is blamed for a overnight house fire that took the lives of a woman and her son.

The fire broke out just after 12:30 on Wrens Nest Road. That's just off Robious Road in Chesterfield County.

Investigators say it began with a socket in the living room. We're told the outlet did not appear to be overloaded.

46-year-old Tracey Johnson and her 12-year-old son, Jacob Layne, were killed. 53-year-old Kenneth Layne was seriously injured when he escaped by jumping from a second-story window.

As friends and neighbors remember Jacob and his mother, there's also concern among neighbors about their homes. We've learned that Wednesday, the Chesterfield Fire Department will meet with residents in Settlers Landing to talk about fire safety. We're also getting new details about Kenneth Layne's jump from his burning home.

Before firefighters arrived Kenneth Layne jumped out of a second-floor window - that's now boarded up. With flames spewing out the home, he was burned, but didn't break any bones. Firefighters found him ducking for cover by his truck that was parked on the street.

12-year old Jacob Layne and his mom Tracey Johnson couldn't escape their home that burned for more than an hour Tuesday morning.

"The smoke divers went inside and you could see the lights going from room to room. We just figured everyone was out," said neighbor Steve Fisher.

He says Tracey was a happy, upbeat woman. He describes Kenneth as a friendly handyman.

"He was working on the house. He was putting up new siding and things like that," Steve said.

10-year-old Aaron Johnson remembers his friend Jacob. They met in kindergarten.

"I was crying because I missed my dad. And he just walked me over to my teacher, like a good friend," said Aaron.

Aaron remembers seeing how much Jacob loved his mother.

"After lunch or group time he would give her a hug and a kiss goodbye," he said.

Neighbor Josh Dix won't forget the deadly electrical fire that glowed near his home.

"It was tough to go to sleep last night. I made sure our Christmas tree was out. I cut all of our TV's off.  I went back and checked," Dix said.

As neighbors pass the destroyed home they're reminded of the father now without his wife and child just four days before Christmas.

"It's really just a shame. I mean our thoughts and prayers go out to them. It's just terrible," said Steve.

People are honoring their spirit tonight as a memorial now stands on that white picket-fence.

Wednesday afternoon's fire safety meeting begins at four at the Greenfield Community Center. Also today, a spokesperson for Chesterfield Schools, where Jacob attended school, says the district is keeping the family in its thoughts and prayers.

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