Firefighters confirmed an unattended space heater caused the fire that destroyed most of a residential mobile home in the 3000 block of Clarks Bridge Road and tied up traffic along the Lake Lanier route late Tuesday afternoon.
No one was injured in the blaze, including the home's owner, identified as Jerry S. Thompson in Hall County Fire Services' incident report.
Displaced family members included two adults and three children ages 3, 5 and 14, Fire Chief David Kimbrell said after the fire Tuesday.
Heavy smoke and flames were visible when firefighters arrived to the scene less than eight minutes after being called to the 12-foot by 60-foot home, the report stated. The financial loss was estimated at $25,000.
The American Red Cross was called to assist the victims, which is typical after any residential fire serious enough to displace residents, said Larry Tyson, director of emergency services for the Northeast Georgia Chapter.
The past few months have been particularly busy for the nonprofit, which serves the 12-county area radiating north mainly from Hall, Tyson said.
"We're close to one fire a day," Tyson said. "Roughly 50-75 percent of those don't have insurance."
In December, chapter volunteers responded to 25 fires within its region, with January's fires approaching 15, Tyson added.
Winter cases generally stem from carelessness with heating sources, Tyson said. He specified electric and kerosene space heaters as problematic when left unattended or positioned too close to flammables such as curtains or bedding.
"Folks are using alternative heat sources and they're not being careful," he said.
When serious fires occur, fire departments often call the Red Cross to help assess victims' needs.
Immediate shelter and clothing are foremost in many cases, Tyson said.
"Most fires generally occur later at night, and they get out with whatever they're sleeping in or have on," Tyson said.
Agreements with local hotels and donations to the Red Cross help pay for those initial needs, with referral services offering victims ways to secure long-term help.
"Our assistance is to get people started on the road to recovery," Tyson said.
With fires representing the most common disaster the Red Cross responds to nationwide, volunteers are in demand. A Red Cross course Saturday will focus on the kinds of emergencies volunteers are trained to handle, including residential fires.
"We're always looking for folks who are interested in helping their neighbors," Tyson said. "We have all ages of volunteers. Some are retired some are still working, some are self employed. It depends on what their availability is. We can find a use for anybody."
The free course, titled "Disaster Services: An Overview," will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Northeast Georgia Chapter's main Gainesville office at 675 White Sulphur Road. Community members and interested volunteers are invited to attend the session.
Tyson asked interested participants to reserve their place by contacting him at 770-532-8453 or email@example.com.