Lightning strike destroys home in Blue Ridge

Fannin County EMA/EMS, News

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – A lightning strike is responsible for a fire that ended with the total loss of a family home in Blue Ridge.

The Fannin County Fire Department was dispatched to a call of a reported lightning strike shortly after 5 p.m. Thursday, May 31. After stepping out the door of Fire Station 1 in downtown Blue Ridge, Fire Chief Larry Thomas quickly realized that the reported lightning strike had resulted in a fire.

Smoke was seen from downtown Blue Ridge bellowing high into the air quickly turning from a light gray smoke to a deep black.

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, House Fire, Lightning, Fannin County Fire Department, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, Community Emergency Response Team, Medic, Cohutta Wilderness, Wildfire, Fire Chief, Larry Thomas, Tankersley, Willow Creek Falls and Vineyard

Smoke was visible from the home fire in downtown Blue Ridge.

“Black smoke is what you get from house fires,” Thomas explained of the sight from downtown Blue Ridge. “The synthetic materials that make up a home and that are found in a home will account for this.”

Thomas described pulling up to the scene of the fire: “We arrived less than 10 minutes after dispatch and found the house 40 to 50 percent involved with flames that had already vented through the roof.”

When arriving on the scene, crews were able to move three vehicles near the structure. These vehicles are known as exposures.

Exposures are potentials for a fire resulting from another fire outside of the primary building, structure, or vehicle. In this case crews identified the vehicles as having a potential for resulting in a secondary hazard and were able to remove them safely.

Firefighters were also able to protect a nearby garage and two other vehicles from becoming part of the inferno.

The home located on Wild Iris Trail belongs to the Tankersley family, owners of Willow Creek Falls and Vineyard. While the family was not physically harmed during the fire, it has been confirmed that some of their beloved pets were unable to escape.

Despite time-saving tactics and added water supply, fire fighters were unable to save the home, and it was deemed a total loss.

While the weather of the evening aided in containing the fire to the structure, it also combated efforts to save the home itself.

Thomas stated the rains helped to keep the fire from spreading to the surrounding terrain, but the steady winds that accompanied the storms progressed the fire through the home.

“The wind would shift direction and that affected the high fire. It would actually force the fire back into and down through the attic space,” Thomas said, explaining how the fire spread, “and then the low fire was just eating its way in on the ground.”

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, House Fire, Lightning, Fannin County Fire Department, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, Community Emergency Response Team, Medic, Cohutta Wilderness, Wildfire, Fire Chief, Larry Thomas, Tankersley, Willow Creek Falls and Vineyard

A tree near the home received a direct hit by lightning and is the cause of the resulting house fire.

The fire began as a result of a lightning strike to a nearby tree. The electricity from the strike moved through the roots of the tree where it made contact with underground utilities, and moved into the home.

Fires resulting from lightning strikes are seen annually in our area. Most notably seen in recent times, the Cohutta Wilderness Wildfire destroyed thousands of acres and lasted several months in late 2016.

“Lightning doesn’t have to hit your house to start the fire,” Thomas explained of the nature of fires caused by lightning. “It can strike anything nearby, a tree or utilities. It can then travel through the tree roots or underground lines, anything that conducts electricity, and reach the home.”

Firefighters responded to a second call of a lightning strike-induced fire on the evening of May 31. This strike had moved through a gas line connecting to a home. The homeowner in this case was able to shut off the gas supply and extinguish the fire before major damage was done.

“The best thing people can do, is just stay vigilant during these storms,” Thomas said as he acknowledged the unpredictability of storms and lightning in general.

Crews were on the scene of the house fire on Wild Iris Trail for approximately seven hours. A total of 22 firefighters helped to combat the blaze. Medics, as well as members of the Fannin County Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), were also present to provide emergency personnel with rehabilitation services such as oxygen and a dry area. Fannin County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene to direct traffic.

 

[Featured image: The home located on Wild Iris Trail as fire fighters worked to battle the blaze.]

 

 

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Fuel leak closes Davis Street

News

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – The portion of Davis Street located between East Main Street and East First Street is currently closed due to a diesel fuel leak.

Shortly after 4 p.m., a semi-trailer suffered a ruptured fuel line on the side of Davis Street closest to East First Street.Blue Ridge, Fannin County, Georgia, Fire Department, City of Blue Ridge Police Department, Fannin County Sherrif's Office, Larry Thomas, East Main Street, East First Street, Davis Street, Diesel Fuel

Blue Ridge city crews as well as local law enforcement and officials from the fire department are on the scene to close off the street and direct traffic.

Crews from Atlanta are en route to help with clean up. Not only will the roadway need to be properly cleaned of any remaining chemicals from the initial spill, but neighboring yards will also have to be excavated to rid the area of contamination.

Fire Chief Larry Thomas is on the scene and said to expect the roadway to be closed for at least another three hours.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

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Fannin County Fire Department responds to multiple fires

Featured, News

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Fannin County Emergency Response Teams responded to several fire-related calls over the weekend and into early Monday morning.

On Saturday evening, the Fannin County Fire Department (FCFD) responded to a 9:12 p.m. call of a residential fire at a rental cabin on 885 Brittney Dr. in Epworth. Crews arrived on scene at 9:34 p.m.

According to Fire Chief Larry Thomas, the fire began in an outside chimney and quickly spread to endanger the house. Fourteen firefighters along with three engines and two tankers were able to contain the fire to the chimney.

No injuries were sustained as a result of the incident, Thomas said.

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Miner Springs Apartments fire. Photo Courtesy of Kelly Wisner.

Later in the weekend, FCFD was dispatched to a report of a fire located at the Mineral Springs apartment complex at 3:46 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 26.

Kelly Wisner, a resident of Mineral Springs Apartments, recounted the events that took place that afternoon. “I had just woken up from a nap and looked out my window,” Wisner explained. “I saw smoke and told my husband the building across from us was on fire. We immediately got on our shoes and split.”

Kelly Wisner and her husband, Jason Wisner, ran to the building that was on fire and adjacent buildings to warn residents of the fire and the need to evacuate and move their vehicles. Kelly Wisner also placed a call to 911 during this time.

Meanwhile, Jason Wisner ran into the building that was aflame and banged on doors alerting everyone to get out. Kelly Wisner, when speaking of her husband’s courageous act, said, “He doesn’t look at himself as a hero. He just says that he did what anyone would do.”

Chief Thomas stated the fire started on the back deck of a ground floor unit. Thomas said, “The fire traveled up the wall to the second floor and into the attic. We were able to put the fire out in the apartment that it had engulfed and put the fire out in the attic.”

According to a representative with Mineral Springs Apartments, three units suffered damaged due to the fire. All units in the building, however, must remain vacated until an inspection can be done and power is restored.

In addition to the residents who got out of the building safely, FCFD also reports that they were able to rescue six cats, one pet snake and one pet canary.

FCFD also responded to a fire located at the Open Arms home. A call came in at 8:36 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 26, and units were on scene within 18 minutes.

Open Arms is a nonprofit organization for children who have been abused or neglected. The program offers a number of services including short-term residential care.

According to a post made on Open Arms Facebook page:

“It’s with a sad heart that I inform you that around 8:30 p.m. last night (Sunday Night) a fire occurred at the Open Arms Home for Children. All of our girls and staff got out of the home safely and unharmed but our home is most likely a complete loss.”

It went on to say:

“God spared our girls and staff tonight. A few hours later and they all might have been in a deep sleep and the outcome could have been much more devastating.”

A state investigator was on the scene of the Open Arms home fire for suspected arson. Captain Justin Turner with the Fannin County Sheriff’s Department was able to confirm that the fire was intentionally set and a juvenile is currently in custody.

The case remains an open investigation.

At 1:49 a.m. Monday, Nov. 27, FCFD responded to the scene of a truck fire at Advanced Disposal located at 10169 Lakewood Hwy. in Mineral Bluff.

One of Advanced Disposal’s compactor trucks had caught fire. The cause of the fire is undetermined and currently still under investigation.

No one was injured during this fire. The compactor truck suffered significant damage and damage to other vehicles parked nearby was also reported .

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

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Natalie Kissel

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Winter Storm Benji impacts Fannin County

Fannin County EMA/EMS, News

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Snow continues to fall on Fannin County as Winter Storm Benji makes its way out of our region. Residents around the county have reported anywhere from five to eight inches of snow, some reporting more in localized areas.

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Mineral Bluff, Morgaton, McCaysville, Georgia, Winter Storm, Winter Weather, Snow, Fannin County Emergency Management Agency, EMA, Robert Graham, Lakewood Hwy, GA 60, GA 515, Glenda Higdon, Public Works, Zack Ratcliff, Fire Department, Larry Thomas

Roadways quickly became hazardous early this afternoon. Photo courtesy of Malinda Williams Bakara.

Fannin County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director Robert Graham says that we are in for more snowfall through the evening hours. Graham stated, “Forecasts are showing an additional one to three inches for our area.”

Power outages have been reported throughout the county today, and crews are working on restoring power to those without. Graham stated of the outages, “Several are out on the eastern side of our county, and up in the Dial area.”

Going into the night power outages and refreezing of roadways are of major concern. The roads cleared some today as temperatures slowly crept above freezing, but without wind or the sun to dry the roadways the water left behind is likely to turn into ice.

Director of Public Works Zack Ratcliff released a statement that he is expecting conditions to worsen as a significant refreeze with black ice will likely occur after dark as temperatures begin to fall into the 20s.

Ratcliff has six trucks dispatched throughout the county putting down salt and gravel mix to treat the roads, and three motor graders have been out working in locations such as Aska Road, Old Hwy. 76, and the Mobile and Madola roads area.

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Mineral Bluff, Morgaton, McCaysville, Georgia, Winter Storm, Winter Weather, Snow, Fannin County Emergency Management Agency, EMA, Robert Graham, Lakewood Hwy, GA 60, GA 515, Glenda Higdon, Public Works, Zack Ratcliff, Fire Department, Larry Thomas

Five to eight inches of snow are being reported across the county. Photo courtesy of Suzanne Ponton.

EMA Director Robert Graham is now urging residents, “Please stay off the roads tonight, unless you absolutely need to get out. Try to stay put in the morning as well. After about 10 or 11 a.m. tomorrow, we hope the temperatures will get back up and melt some of this off.”

Fannin County Fire and Rescue Chief and EMA Deputy Director Larry Thomas spoke with FetchYourNews about area roadways and conditions. Thomas confirmed that his department has already responded to several calls today. Many of these calls involved stranded motorists and residents.

While some could not avoid getting out today, many citizens chose to prepare and stay indoors. Fannin County resident Glenda Higdon spoke of her preparation, “So far so good here. We are gathering water, charging phones and phone banks, brought in another load of wood and cooking food up. We have a wood heater, heat pumps and a generator.”

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Mineral Bluff, Morgaton, McCaysville, Georgia, Winter Storm, Winter Weather, Snow, Fannin County Emergency Management Agency, EMA, Robert Graham, Lakewood Hwy, GA 60, GA 515, Glenda Higdon, Public Works, Zack Ratcliff, Fire Department, Larry Thomas

Glenda Higdons shared this photo of snowfall on her property.

Higdon added with a smile, “We also have a bobcat, tractor, battery chargers, as well! My hubby is a Vietnam Veteran and is not about to get stuck anywhere!”

“We’re both locals so when the blizzard came in 1993, (we) learned a lot about being prepared then (the hard way),” Higdon explained.

Whether prepared or not Winter Storm Benji has left its mark on the north Georgia mountains, and its effects will continue to be experienced in our area for the next couple of days.

Follow FetchYourNews for the latest information about Winter Storm Benji in our area.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

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Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

Fatal Home Fire in Fannin County

News

BLUE RIDGE, GA – Fannin County Fire Department (FCFD) responded to three fires last week, one of those fires resulted in the fatality of the homeowner.

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Location of fatal house fire on Toccoa Forest Lane.

FCFD received a dispatch at 10:21 A.M on Wednesday, October 18, 2017, to a house fire located at 216 Toccoa Forest Lane. The dispatch warned that there was a possible entrapment involved. Responders arrived on the scene 15 minutes later.

Fire/Rescue Chief and EMA Deputy Director Larry Thomas explained that upon arrival the area of the structure where the homeowner was located was “fully engulfed and had already started collapsing.”

Twelve emergency responders with FCFD arrived on the scene, but were unable to get to the trapped occupant. Don Howard, age 65, passed away due to smoke inhalation.

FCFD responded to another house fire last week located at 260 Fain Street. Dispatch was received on Thursday, October 19, 2017, and FCFD was on the scene within seven minutes.

FetchYourNews, Blue Ridge, Fannin County, Georgia, Walmart, Fire Department

Foul play is suspected in Walmart fire.

Upon arrival smoke and flames were seen at the backside of the house. FCFD was able to contain and extinguish the fire.

On Sunday, October 24 at 2:14 A.M. FCFD responded to a third call pertaining to a fire. The fire was detected inside Walmart located at 97 Commerce Drive in Blue Ridge. The fire began in a disposal cart for cardboard containers located within the store.

Thomas confirmed that when FCFD arrived on the scene, that Walmart employees had been successful in moving the cart outside of the store. Foul play is suspected at this time and the incident is currently being investigated by the City of Blue Ridge Police Department.

While no foul play is suspected in either of the two home fires, both fires remain under investigation.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

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Natalie Kissel

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County to Purchase New Equipment

News

BLUE RIDGE, GA – Fannin County is set to receive new equipment after the Board of Commissioner meeting that was held on Tuesday, September, 12, 2017. Commissioners voted unanimously to purchase a new fire truck and spreader for the county.

Public Works Director Zach Ratcliff addressed the Board about the purchase of a new spreader that would salt the roads during inclement weather. Ratcliff found a used spreader for $7,000 that he describes as in “like new” condition.

Blue Ridge, Fannin County, Georgia, Board of Commissioners, Stan Helton, Earl Johnson, Larry Joe Sosebee, Public Works Director, Zach Ratcliff, Fire Chief, Larry Thomas

Public Works Director Zach Ratcliff addresses the Commissioners.

Ratcliff was unable to get a quote on a new spreader of this size, but noted that one that is new in a smaller size would cost $21,000. With the used spreader only being a third of that price, Ratcliff stated, “That’s just a good deal anyway you look at it.”

County Chairman Stan Helton questioned, “And we need this, correct?”

To which Post Two Commissioner Larry Joe Sosebee confirmed, “Everything we’ve got out there now is rusted.”

After approval for the purchase of the new spreader, Fire Chief Larry Thomas discussed with the Board a used fire engine he had found. The fire engine, located in Alabama, had been inspected by Thomas and he stated, “It appears to be in very, very good condition. With low mileage.”

Blue Ridge, Fannin County, Georgia, Board of Commissioners, Stan Helton, Earl Johnson, Larry Joe Sosebee, Public Works Director, Zach Ratcliff, Fire Chief, Larry Thomas

Fire Chief Larry Thomas asks county for a new vehicle.

The original asking price of the vehicle was $59,000, but Thomas had managed to negotiate this price. The sellers came down on price to $45,000 with an agreement to deliver the vehicle to Fannin County.

Thomas stated, “These commercial chassis are very hard to come by.”

Thomas confirmed that he had received $30,000 in insurance reimbursement after an accident involving one of the county’s fire engines in December 2016. This money would be put toward the purchase of the new vehicle.

The new fire engine will be placed at Station 9 to take the place of the vehicle damaged in the December 2016 accident.

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

#BKP with Larry Thomas and Kevin Panter. Identify your House with 911 Sign

GMFTO

Fannin County Fire Chief Larry Thomas and Volunteer Kevin Panter talk about how important it is to clearly mark you home so first responders can find you when you call 911. You can get a 911 marker for your property for $20 at Kevin Panter Insurance.

Fannin Fire Department Gets New Truck

News

Fannin County Fire Department gets a new Ford F350 4WD vehicle and Fire Chief Larry Thomas described the truck as “much needed.”  Volunteers raised the funds to purchase the vehicle which will be used at Mineral Bluff at Fire Station #2.  Thomas told us the Fire Station #2 had one 4 wheel drive unit but this one is smaller and will make things easier.

Much needed equipment is generally purchased through the budget, however volunteers raised donations for this purchase.  Chief Larry Thomas has been Fire Chief with Fannin County for almost 15 years.  Thomas wanted to thank the Committee who worked so hard, the volunteers who worked equally hard, and all the folks who donated to raise the funds.

truck

Please remember the BBQ Benefit – Live Music – November 14th 2015 11am – 3pm at The Community Hall in Epworth, Georgia $7 per ticket. Proceeds will go toward the purchase of the Fire/Rescue Truck for Fannin County Fire Department.  Sponsored by:  Tri-State Methodist Men.  Fannin Fire Department will be doing Car Seat Safety Check, Life Force will be there, and Sparky!

sparky

 

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