The fire was reported to Spalding County 911 at 6:20 p.m. By the time the first SCFD engine arrived on the scene four minutes later, the house was fully involved.
Because the fire had already caused damage to a neighboring home and was threatening another, SCFD officials initiated an attack to prevent further spread of the fire before working to extinguish the fire at the point of origin.
Although the investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing, Spalding County Fire Chief Chipper Gardner said it is not considered a suspicious fire.
“There’s nothing suspicious or anything like that. There’s been nothing said and we’ve seen nothing in our investigation to make us suspect anything unusual,” he said. “They’re looking in the garage — in the general area surrounding the water heater. Based on statements that he (Spalding County Fire Marshal Capt. Eddie James) received from people who were not at the residence when the fire began, that’s where the fire appears to have started — somewhere in that general area.”
A family friend, Lance Coker, was home when the fire began. He described hearing an unusual noise and discovered the fire when he went to investigate.
“I was in the computer room, on the computer, and I heard a loud pop,” he said. “I came into the laundry room to see what was wrong because I thought it came from there, but the door was half all right and half covered with smoke. I turned around and the water heater was completely covered in flames. I tried to put it out with a hose, but I couldn’t.”
Coker received minor burns to his right foot, arms and face when he re-entered the home in an attempt to rescue a family pet, a Shih Tzu named Jackson.
“I tried to get Jackson out, but I couldn’t,” Coker said.