House Fire Kills Franklin Firefighter's Wife and Two Children

Franklin Volunteer firefighter Johnathan Austif had to go to Memorial Medical Center after suffering injuries trying to save his family from a fire that ended up killing his wife, his two-month-old daughter and a three-year-old boy.

Crews arrived immediately after calls came in around 2:20 a.m. to the building totally engulfed in flames. There was not enough time to save the family.

Austif's friend, Cindy Barnes, visited him in the hospital and said he's okay physically, but he's lost everything.

"Physically he looks fine, but he's torn up tremendously. He is a great guy. His wife and children are great. They were great people."

Austif is a marine veteran and one of 16 volunteer firefighters in Franklin. Chief Gerald Wilson says the department is "a scrambled mess" after watching one of their own go through this.

They do have a fund they can use to help in Austif's recovery.

"The Franklin Fire Association actually donates money to families that are less fortunate, with tragic losses like this, so we're going to donate to their family," Wilson said.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. There is also a fund set up with the Community State Bank of Franklin if you want to donate.

They can be reached at 217-675-2311. You can also email

We'll keep you updated on the investigation as details become available.

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