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Mount Vernon school reacts to death of student killed in house fire on Sunday
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A residential fire Sunday morning killed a father and son on Smallwood Drive in north Hall County. - photo by Scott Rogers

Update, Dec. 3: 

No foul play is suspected in a Sunday morning house fire that killed a father and son, according to the Georgia Insurance and Fire Commissioner.

However, the “cause and origin of this extremely tragic event are still under investigation,” the office said in a press release Tuesday, Dec. 3.

The bodies were sent to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab for autopsy, Safety Fire Commissioner John F. King said.

Smoke alarms were in the home, but it is unclear if they were working properly when the fire started, according to the press release.

A joint memorial service will be held for the Hinds at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 7, in the chapel of Memorial Park Funeral Home. The Rev. David Edmondson will officiate. The Hinds family will receive friends from noon to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 7, before the service. 

Memorial Park Funeral Home is located at 2030 Memorial Park Road in Gainesville. 

To send online condolences, visit 

Update, Dec. 2:

Jesse Hinds Sr. would sit in a chair near the end of the driveway on Smallwood Drive and wait for his son, Jesse Jr., to get off the school bus.

That chair was one of the few things unscathed and intact Monday, Dec. 2, the day after a fire killed the 40-year-old father and 9-year-old son.

Melvin Dills said right around 8 a.m. he could see smoke just above the treetop and a blaze inside the home.

“When I pulled up here, I looked. The whole living room from one end to the other is fully engulfed,” Dills said.

Dills said the “heat was so intense” as he got closer. Dills unhooked the family’s Husky dog from a tree before running to the next door neighbor’s house, trying to get that family evacuated. 

“I told her, ‘You get these little kids and get out of here until the fire truck gets here,’” Dills said, concerned about debris that could potentially spread the fire to the next home.

Dills said the dog has been released back to the family.

Jennifer Westbrook, principal of Mount Vernon Exploratory School in North Hall, said Jesse Hinds Jr.’s school community “is very devastated by this loss.”

“Jesse was an amazing, one-of-a-kind boy who touched so many lives around him — adults and children,” Bethany Nix, Mount Vernon’s counselor, said. “He will be very missed.”

Jesse and his father, Jesse Hinds Sr., were killed in a house fire on Smallwood Drive on Sunday.

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Melvin Dills looks over at the destroyed home of Jesse Hind's home Monday, Dec, 2, 2019, where a fire killed Hind and his son Jesse Jr. on Smallwood Drive on Sunday. Dills spotted the fire from his house and went over immediately only to find the home fully engulfed. - photo by Scott Rogers

On Monday, Dec. 2, Nix and Tamara Etterling, Hall’s director of student services, began organizing student and staff support for the week. 

The school currently has a team of counselors, social workers and staff members at Mount Vernon to help those struggling with grief. 

“We have a team of folks on hand trained to help our students and staff deal with an event as traumatic as this,” Hall Superintendent Will Schofield said in a press release on Monday. “And we will continue to provide that support as long as it is needed. This community is resilient. It will pull together as it always does to provide support and healing. Our hearts go out to the Hinds family in this time of great loss and significant need.”

Stan Lewis, Hall director of community relations and athletics, said in a press release that the district will post the Hinds family's physical needs on the Purposity app as they are brought to student services.

Once people download the free app from the App Store or Google Play, they can follow Hall County Schools and make a donation to the Hinds.

Those wanting to assist with funeral costs can send their donations to Memorial Park Funeral Home at 2030 Memorial Park Road in Gainesville or by calling 770-532-0478.

Lewis said checks made out to Memorial Park Funeral Home can also be delivered to Mount Vernon between 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday, and from 8 a.m. to noon on Thursday.

Cash donations cannot be accepted at the school.

Previous story:

A residential fire on Smallwood Drive Sunday morning killed a father and son.

Jesse Hinds, 40, and Jesse Hinds Jr., 9, were located in the home near Mount Vernon Road, according to Capt. Zach Brackett with Hall County Fire Services. The fire was called in just before 8 a.m. Sunday, and the home was fully involved in fire when firefighters arrived, Brackett said.

Brackett said the cause of the fire is undetermined, and the Hall County Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating.

Reporter Megan Reed contributed to this story.

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A residential fire on Smallwood Drive Sunday morning killed a father and son. - photo by Hall County Fire Services
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A residential fire Sunday morning killed a father and son on Smallwood Drive in north Hall County. - photo by Scott Rogers
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Fire destroyed a home on Smallwood Drive Sunday morning killing Jesse Hind and his son Jesse Jr. Farmer Melvin Dills, who uses the road for his farming daily, said he spotted the fire from his nearby home and it was totally engulfed when he arrived. - photo by Scott Rogers