- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 21, 2009

VARINA, VA. (AP) - Country music legend Jimmy Dean and his wife escaped a fire that heavily damaged their house in Virginia, authorities said Tuesday.

Three firefighters suffered minor injuries fighting the blaze at the home overlooking the James River in Varina. The fire was reported at 8:05 p.m. Monday and was brought under control several hours later.

Fire Capt. Chris Buehren said the blaze caused extensive damage to the basement, first floor and attic of the moderately sized farmhouse. The house is valued at $1.3 million, according to county records.

Dean, 80, and his wife, Donna Meade Dean, weren’t injured. The couple were outside the home when firefighters arrived.

The cause of the fire hasn’t been determined.

Firefighters had to shuttle water in tanker trucks from the James River to the Deans’ home, a distance of about 1 mile, Buehren said.

Dean is best known for his 1961 recording of “Big Bad John,” a Grammy-winning mining tale performed in his spoken-word style. Another popular ballad, “PT 109,” was a homage to President John F. Kennedy’s heroism in World War II.

From 1963 to 1966, the entertainer starred in “The Jimmy Dean Show,” a country music show on ABC.

The sausage company he founded in Texas in 1969 was sold to Sara Lee Corp. in 1984.

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