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Fire destroys North Hall home

Overnight blaze likely started in chimney, fire officials say

POSTED: March 1, 2014 11:29 p.m.

A Clermont home was destroyed by fire overnight Friday but the residents escaped safely.

Hall County fire crews responded to the blaze around 11:54 p.m. in the 5800 block of Sweetbottom Lane north Cleveland Highway/U.S. 129 in northern Hall County, Fire Marshal Scott Cagle reported. They found a 7,000-square-foot, two-story log cabin with fire showing from the roof and chimney area.

“We responded to it, and once we saw that there were no hydrants, we requested White County for mutual aid,” Cagle said.

A son in the home noticed smoke and awoke his parents, Cagle said, and got the family safely out.

“We do feel pretty confident it started around the chimney area,” Cagle said as to the cause. “They had just started a fire in the fireplace, and that was the first place flames were spotted.”

As to why how it managed to spread from the chimney, Cagle said an investigation may not yield an answer.

“That part we’ll never know because the damage is so bad,” he said. “A lot of the times up in a chimney, it could be cracks in the masonry; it could be a variety of things.”

The property was a total loss valued at $800,000.

There was no access to fire hydrants, Cagle said, hampering what might have been an otherwise manageable blaze. White County supplied an additional water tanker, but it wasn’t enough.

“It was a very big house, and very frustrating to the firefighters,” he said. “They would get a handle on it, then have to wait on the next truck to come.”

Some of the family’s valuables were salvaged by firefighters before the home was destroyed. Cagle said preservation of life is paramount, and it takes keen training to know when entering a house for valuables is safe.

“It’s years of experience of the battalion chief that was on the scene — reading the smoke and reading the stage of the fire,” he said. “They see that the ceiling and roof is still intact, and we can go in safely to get items out of the house. But the second it’s deemed unsafe, we’re not going risk it.”

Jewelry and paintings were among the items saved, he said.



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