A Colbert brother and sister died in a fire and explosion apparently fueled by gunpowder early Sunday morning near Colbert Elementary School.
Lisa Shubert, 42, of Colbert School Road and her brother, Terry (T.J.) Cotton, 39, of Madison Street, were pronounced dead at the scene following resuscitation efforts, according to Madison County coroner Michelle Cleveland.
A third victim, Jerry Scott Payne, also of Colbert School Road, was transported by Emory life flight helicopter to Grady Memorial Hospital’s burn center with initial reports of burns to 90 percent of his body, as well as smoke inhalation injuries.
Cleveland said firefighters found Shubert and Cotton along the back wall of the small block building.
“Their only exit (at the front) was blocked by fire,” Cleveland said.
According to reports, Colbert Volunteer Fire Department, along with Hull and Neese-Sanford fire departments, responded to the scene on Colbert School Road just off Hwy. 72 about 1:30 a.m.
They found Payne outside the building and Cleveland said it was unclear whether he had escaped the entrance or been blown out by the force of the explosion.
Payne allegedly said he had dropped a cigarette near the entrance, where it evidently caught some yard sale clothing on fire, which caused a flash fire and explosion with the gunpowder.
The building’s owner had formerly used it as a gun repair shop, according to Cleveland.
Shubert and Payne reportedly lived in a mobile home just next door and along with Cotton, had gone to the block building to short some stored yard sale items when the fire and explosion occurred.