A fire Wednesday destroyed a duplex in the New Holland area of Gainesville that was home to a family of four and the property owner.
Patrick Navarro lived in the 2,000-square-foot home at 46 Mill St. with his family.
He said he was relaxing, watching television in the home he rents when the fire erupted. Firefighters responded to the call at about 3 p.m.
“There is nothing. Everything was inside. Everything,” Navarro said, watching the billows of smoke pour from the collapsed roof.
Even the black jacket he was wearing while standing outside was borrowed, he said.
“I grabbed my kids and that was it,” he said.
The children played in the street with the other neighborhood children as firefighters continued to fight the blaze. The effort took three Hall County fire engines and assistance from one Gainesville engine, Hall County Fire Chief David Kimbrell said.
Navarro said the owner of the duplex lived on the other side of the home and was out of town.
His neighbor, James Gilmer, is a retired volunteer emergency worker. Navarro took his family to Gilmer’s doorstep upon fleeing.
For 30 years, Gilmer helped respond to fires in Hall County, he said.
“They didn’t burn nothing like this,” he said, recalling nearby fires in recent memory.
Navarro will have to find a new home after losing the house both his children were born in.
“I actually remember when we moved here because my wife was pregnant,” Navarro said.
Support from the community will be important, Gilmer said.
“They’re going to need a lot of support, a lot of help,” he said.
A representative from the American Red Cross was on the scene to assist the family. Kimbrell said the fire’s cause hasn’t been determined yet.
“Those houses are around 85-plus years old,” Kimbrell said, “so it will be a total loss.”
Because of the materials used in construction of the duplex, it would cost more to repair than replace, he said.