BLUE RIDGE, Ga – Officials looking into how two homes in the county caught fire. The blazes occurred a little over a week apart, and one home belonged to first year Fannin County High School (FCHS) wrestling coach. No injuries reported in either fire.
In the early morning hours of Monday, Dec. 23, Fannin County Fire Department (FCFD) responded to a fire in the Aska Road area. The house was vacant at the time of the blaze with 60 to 70 percent of the structure engulfed in flames.
FCFD did shut down one lane on Aska Road for part of the morning while trying to contain the fire.
Currently, the State Fire Marshall is investigating the cause. Details about the Dec. 23 fire are still developing, and FYN will update as information becomes available.
On Sunday, Dec. 15, on Meadow Creek Way, FCHS Wrestling Coach Chuck Patterson and his family lost their home to a fire. Luckily, Chuck, his wife, Cathy, their boys and dogs all made it out safely. However, the family did lose their home, everything inside, and both vehicles.
An electrical area in the front of the home can’t be ruled out as possible cause at this time, according to FCFD. No foul play is suspected in the Patterson fire.
A GoFundMe has been set up to help the Patterson family and has raised $18,950 as of Dec. 23. The GoFundMe has a goal of $25,000. United Community Bank (UCB) also set up the Chuck Patterson Benefit Fund for those interested in assisting the family during this trying time. To donate, simply approach a teller and tell them that you want to contribute to the benefit. If you have an account with UCB, you can also call the bank.
FCHS is accepting clothing donations for the Patterson’s. Their sizes are as follows:
Clothing donations can be dropped off at the FCHS office.
Chuck: XXXL shirt, 42-44 pant, 12.5 shoe
Cathy: XL shirt, 12-14 pant, 8.5-9 shoe
The boys’ Sizes: 8 shirt, 7 pant, 3 shoe and 5T or 4/5 shirt, 5T or 4/5 pants, 12 shoe (children)
The family is new to Blue Ridge and the Fannin County School District. The Fannin County High School wrestling team is lucky to have such an amazing and inspiring coach.
Feature image courtesy of FYN reader.
Noted for its historical significance in Fannin County, Shallowford Bridge is eligible to be recognized in The National Registry of Historic Places. While its fate has been determined without much discord among residents of the area, the location of a new bridge has fierce opposition and great concern over the safety of tourists and residents.
Even on a gloomy, off season Sunday afternoon there is considerable traffic using the bridge at Shallowford and Aska road intersection. Boards visibly lift and drop as each vehicle crosses Shallowford bridge, among unseen structural issues found by GDOT. Area residents and businesses agree the bridge needs to be repaired or replaced. It is the proposed location that is a big concern for those most familiar with the area. Here’s why:
During peak tourist season, vehicles often fill the already limited parking areas and park along Aska Road to visit the gem mine, novelty stores, restaurant and tubing businesses. Pedestrian traffic is significant during the warmer months and peak season. The new bridge is scheduled to be built directly in the middle of this already congested area. Excited children, even adults don’t often think about being hit by a vehicle. Locals believe that is what should be of the highest concern and not about being near to the old bridge. The current bridge, while not far from the proposed bridge is just to the South of the busy area.
GDOT’s Grant Waldrup recently stated residences and businesses along Aska Road and Shallowford Bridge Road will be minimally affected. Those who live in and know the area well have expressed a much different opinion.
“If you want to put a bridge directly behind our parking that is the most dangerous section of Aska Road,” stated Kimberly Wolfe, owner of Iron Bridge Cafe. She sat down with this FYN reporter for a candid interview.
She went on to say, if their concerns are ignored then other safety issues need to be installed, “To save these children and families who have small children getting out of these vans, SUV’s, here to enjoy their day with their family, then you put up precautions; a light, speed bumps. You want to make this more dangerous for Aska Road and all these tourists that come to Blue Ridge to bring us this money. That’s what we’re scared to death of. It’s everyone in this area who is concerned. But give us some sort of safety here on Aska Road. Not for our business which will suffer through construction, but it’s a major safety issue.”
“We fought, we tried, we understand a new bridge. We fully support a new bridge. But don’t put it in the most congested area of Aska Road. Cars fly through here 45-50 mph. Imagine if it’s your child, it only takes a second for a car to run off the road.
“You’re up here on vacation. Imagine losing a loved one. That’s what it’s going to take to realize how bad this area is. Do a ‘car count’ in June or July then let me know what your thoughts are then. Don’t do it in September.”
The news our concerns were ignored and currently no further discussion of safety will be addressed by GDOT “brought anger. It brought tears. It made you sick to your stomach when we heard they’re not going to change it,” Wolfe went on to say.
Of bringing it before the Board of Commissioners for a solution, she said, “We can only hope. We don’t know what else to do now.”
Reaching out to Fannin County Board of Commissioners Chairman Stan Helton for comments on safety concerns, “I am open to address all safety concerns.” After the bridge is built they can consider installing flashing lights, reduced speed or other means of ensuring safety.
The bridge is set for construction sometime in 2020.