Firefighters had to clear a downed tree, shuttle water, work in frigid temperatures and beware of exploding ammunition as they battled a large house fire late Thursday night.
Battalion Chief Al Lovingood said firefighters cleared a tree in the driveway to the home on Kanady Road in Murrayville before they could reach the residence around midnight.
The occupants had escaped safely. Lovingood said taking care of them is the top priority, which in freezing temperatures usually means moving them to a warm medical unit.
The owner of the home declined to comment about the incident or allow photos of the structure that was still smoldering Friday afternoon.
Hall County Fire Services spokesman Scott Cagle said the wife reported she smelled smoke. When her husband went to check the basement, he saw a fire around their wood-burning stove.
The house was 8,000 square feet, according to Cagle, and Lovingood said firefighters battled defensively due to the amount of the home that was involved in flames.
They were also advised that a lot of ammunition was stored at the house, an additional danger to firefighters.
“It went off for a long time,” Lovingood said. “I didn’t make a note of exactly what time we noticed it quit, but if I were going to guess, I would say it went off for well over an hour. And that’d probably be a conservative estimate.”
A propane tank at the back of the house also exploded.
Four engines had to shuttle water from a hydrant on North Hall Place up about a half mile driveway where another engine was stationed at the home.
Public works was called to help salt the roadway as water began freezing there, causing problems for firefighters working to fill the trucks. One firefighter did receive minor injuries after falling on an icy sidewalk.
“We’re not immune to those climate conditions,” Lovingood said.
Firefighters also had to take special precautions in the freezing temperatures not to damage the trucks and especially small lines that tend to freeze quicker than the large ones.
Lovingood said the house eventually collapsed into the basement.
The fire was cleared in just under three hours, Cagle said. The house was deemed a total loss.