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Fatal fire sweeps 4 homes

Woman woke up, saw neighbor’s house on fire

POSTED: December 30, 2007 5:03 a.m.
A man is dead and three houses were destroyed after a fire spread through a Flowery Branch subdivision early Tuesday morning.

Larry Cleveland, 61, of Flowery Branch died as a result of a fire that started in his home and spread to three other houses in the Madison Creek subdivision off Jim Crow Road.

Hall County Fire Services responded to a 3:18 a.m. report of a house fire Tuesday at the 5600 block of Ashmoore Court.

Three houses were engulfed in flames once firefighters arrived, and it took 35 of them to extinguish it, said Hall County Fire Chief David Kimbrell.

The fire destroyed three houses and damaged another on Ashmoore Court. Initial estimates set the damage at about $750,000.

Kimbrell said firefighters discovered Cleveland’s body in the bathroom of his home while conducting a routine search of the house.

A melted garage door lay in the yard of Cleveland’s home Tuesday afternoon, and foam littered the street and the yards of his neighbors. The fire left behind only the house’s brick front and the charred two-by-fours that served as its frame.

Justin Pape owns the house next door to Cleveland’s; his mother lives in the Ashmoore Court house.

While the rest of the neighborhood looked like Christmas as usual, Pape’s mother, who reported the fire, sorted through what was left of her belongings. Pape said the home and all the Christmas presents had been destroyed.

His mother awakened in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom when she noticed Cleveland’s house was on fire, Pape said. She called 911, and later realized the fire had spread to her house, only 20 feet from Cleveland’s.

His mother was too upset to speak to The Times, Pape said.

Kimbrell said the fire is still under investigation, but it seems that it started in the bedroom of Cleveland’s house, where he lived alone. However, the cause of the fire has not been determined, Kimbrell said.

Hall County Fire Services will take one last look at the house today to try to determine how the fire started.

"They’re going to go back and give it a fresh look," Kimbrell said. "But sometimes, you never can exactly put your finger on it."

Also Tuesday, a house in South Hall was completely destroyed after it caught fire. Kimbrell said firefighters arrived on scene about 8:25 p.m. to find the Turk Road home fully involved.

The homeowners were away at the time of the fire and no one was injured, Kimbrell said.

The cause of the blaze is still under investigation.



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