When Robert Elliott saw the smoke, he rushed upstairs to grab his almost 5-year-old son Mason, the walls quickly melting around him.
Making it out of the Arbor Point house in Flowery Branch alive came down to a matter of seconds.
“Five or 10 seconds more and we probably wouldn’t have made it,” Elliott said.
“Fifteen seconds and we definitely don’t make it out.”
At first, the noises he heard made Elliott think his son was out of his bed around 11 p.m. Sunday.
“I thought I heard people running around upstairs,” he said.
After seeing smoke in the middle level of the house, he found the garage engulfed in flames. Elliott burned his right hand as he was getting Mason out of the house along with a family friend.
The three inside the home escaped out a side entrance, as Elliott watched his family’s home burn to the ground.
“To have all of your life and memories go up in flames is a nightmare,” he said.
Hall County firefighters responded to the scene after 11 p.m., working in a defensive mode to protect nearby structures.
The 5,000-square-foot home collapsed, with the flames charring trees standing nearly 50 feet tall.
The house, with an estimated value of $280,000, has been deemed a total loss, said Hall County Fire Services spokesman Scott Cagle.
The debris was still too hot Monday morning for fire investigators to examine what remained.
Cagle said Monday night that investigators found the possibility of an electrical fire.
“Fire investigators traced damaged wire showing an arc that led back to an electrical outlet in the area of origin,” Cagle wrote in an email.
“Homeowners also confirmed previous problems with this outlet.”
Insurance investigators will also examine the findings later, Cagle wrote.
Two cars parked to the left of the garage were damaged by the flames.
The house belongs to Elliott’s father- and mother-in-law, Wayne and Charlotte Fowler, who often stay in Florida.
Elliott has been overwhelmed by the response of his neighbors. In less than a day, he said almost every person in the community has come by to pitch in support.
“The whole neighborhood has been helping out,” he said.