EPWORTH, Ga. – Fannin County Emergency crews responded to a fatal house fire in the early evening hours of Thursday, March 1.
A call came into Fannin County E-911 at 5:32 p.m. of a porch fire located at 2111 Old Epworth Road in Epworth.
Firefighter Britt Jones, first to arrive on the scene, quickly noticed that the fire had spread and was beginning to engulf the home.
Jones radioed for back up personel and also requested law enforcement assistance to close off roadways and direct traffic.
“The fire started on the ground floor front porch,” Fire Chief Larry Thomas said, explaining the rapid spread of the flames, “and it moved up to the balcony porch above. When we got there about eight minutes after the initial call, the fire had entered the second floor and the attic.”
Neighbors and passers-by had attempted to alert anyone that might be in the home. These good samaritans informed emergency personnel that they had knocked on doors and windows in an effort to locate anyone that might be inside.
Engine 4, Engine 5 and Medic 4 responded to the urgent situation. A total of 18 firefighters were present to battle the flames.
Along with fire and medic engines, a Light and Air unit was also on the scene. A Light and Air unit is a specialized piece of firefighting equipment used to provide supplemental lighting and Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) air bottles at the scene of an emergency.
Firefighters were able to extinguish flames around the entry way of the house and upon ascending the steps of the front porch where the initial blaze began, emergency workers instantly located a body.
The discovery of the deceased initiated crews to immediately enter the structure and search for others that might be trapped in the home.
“Crews were on scene until around 10 p.m. that night,” Thomas recalled of the events of the evening.
According to rental history of the property, the current tenant is listed as Matthew Stevens. The body of the deceased, however, is yet to be identified and is presently in the possession of Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI).
While the cause of the fire is officially still under investigation, EMA workers on the scene report that the deceased had been creating Lichtenberg Figures in wood, and it is likely that this hobby led to the fire as well as the death.
These Lichtenberg Figures are created when wood is burned using electricity. Equipment for this dangerous hobby was found on the front porch. The official cause of death has not been released but is speculated, due to the equipment found, to be caused by electrocution.
This is the first fatal fire that the Fannin County Fire Department (FCFD) has responded to in 2018. FCFD responded to three fatal fires in 2017.
Thomas would like to remind residents that when fire hoses are across roadways to please avoid that roadway. A vehicle running over one of these hoses can damage the line and interrupt the water flow.
“I know it can be inconvenient for drivers, but these lines really are our number one tool in fighting fires,” Thomas explained. “The interruption in our supply line can be very dangerous for our crews on the scene.”
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Our interview Friday with Speaker of The House David Ralston focused on rural Georgia. Ralston went into detail about the new Rural Georgia Economic Council. This council will be co-chaired by (R) Terry England from Auburn, (R) Jay Powell from Camilla and Vice Chair (R) Sam Watson from Moultry. The council will be holding meetings across Georgia to hear from elected officials, local businesses and citizens about how they feel rural Georgia economy can best be improved. Ralston said jokingly that he better not find out that one meeting took place in Atlanta.
Health care is a major concern in rural Georgia. Several hospitals have closed in rural Georgia areas including one in Ralston’s district in North Georgia. We spoke to Ralston abut one possible solution to meet rural Georgia health care needs. Ralston used the example of the first stand alone emergency room, opened by Piedmont Mountainside Hospital in Gilmer county. In this interview we asked Ralston if Gilmer county still had the possibility of having a full hospital.
Ralston told us that sometime within the next month Governor Nathan Deal would be visiting Gilmer county’s Fire Station 1 to sign the fire fighter’s workmen’s compensation bill. We asked Ralston the difference in this years campus carry bill opposed to last year’s bill which Governor Deal vetoed. Not being able to speak for the Governor, Ralston said he felt they made the changes necessary to get Deal to sign the bill. We also discussed the pay raises agreed upon in the 2017 legislative session for teachers, state law enforcement, and D.F.C.S workers.
Our final question in our interview friday: Speaker Ralston do you see the governor’s mansion in your future?