CENTRAL HEIGHTS — Several members of Bobby and Sandy Brewer’s family gathered outside their residence, held back by yellow crime scene tape, as firefighters and law enforcement personnel carefully raked and searched through the burned rubble of their home Thursday morning.
Family and friends comforted each other as they waited for word on what the search would reveal.
Just after 9 a.m., firefighters found the first body. About 45 minutes later a second body was located and just after 11 a.m. the third body was found in the charred remains of the home on Lauderdale 81 in the Burcham Valley community.
The bodies were transported to the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences for official identifications.
Authorities believe the three people who died in the fire were Bobby Brewer, 67, his wife, Sandy, 68, and their nephew Bradley Adams, 37.
Sandy Brewer’s brother, Jerry Adams, said the couple were married for years.
“It has to be more than 50,” Adams said. “They were devoted to each other and loved each other.”
Adams said his sister had Alzheimer’s disease and Bobby Brewer was always by her side, taking care of her.
Bobby Brewer was retired, the former owner of a carpet business.
“He took care of her every need,” Adams said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better brother-in-law than Bobby. It was like they were meant to be together.”
Adams said his nephew Bradley was in school at Northwest-Shoals Community College and was smart, a good student.
The fire was reported at 3:20 a.m., according to 911 officials.
Volunteer firefighters from Oakland, Waterloo and Underwood Petersville assisted Central in responding to the fire at the two-story structure south of Alabama 20.
Firefighters said when they arrived, the house was fully involved and a portion of the roof had already fallen in.
The entire roof fell in a short time later.
“This is just a tragic accident,” said Richard Richey, an investigator with the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office.
“As long as forensics doesn’t find anything suspicious as the cause of death, this case will be closed. And we have no reason to believe this wasn’t what it seems to be — an accident.”
Firefighters believe Sandy Brewer was in the kitchen, which is in the northern part of the house.
Her husband’s body is expected to be the one found in the bathroom, adjacent to the bedroom where they slept, and officials said Adams’ body was found in the back of the house, near the back door.
Jerry Adams said his nephew would come over to the Brewer residence and spend the night with his uncle and aunt.
The Brewers had been living at the residence for about two years, according to family members.
Richey said the origin of the fire has yet to be determined but could be the kitchen.
The state fire marshal’s office is conducting the investigation.
Family members, along with firefighters, gathered for a prayer with Don Williams, a chaplain with the firefighter’s association.
“This is a hard situation on everyone, and I just try to give the family a little comfort through prayer,” Williams said.
“The good Lord took them together. That’s the way they would have wanted it,” Adams said.
Tom Smith can be reached at 256-740-5757 or tom.smith@TimesDaily.com.