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Seven escape Gainesville mobile home fire unharmed
Within past two weeks, there have been 3 small fires in home due to electrical issues
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Seven people escaped a fire Friday morning that destroyed this mobile home in the 3300 block of Mountain View Road. - photo by Tom Reed

A mobile home fire off Mountain View Road in Gainesville Friday morning displaced several members of a family.

Hall County Fire Chief David Kimbrell said when fire crews arrived, the home in the 3300 block of Mountain View Road was 50 percent involved.

Seven people were inside the home, but all escaped injury.

Several hours after the fire, the smell of smoke still lingered in the air.

An investigation revealed the fire began in a back bedroom because of electrical issues resulting from an overload in the system, Kimbrell said.

"They had run some drop cords from their mobile home supplying power to another mobile home in the area, and it looks like it overloaded and started a fire," he said.

Family members said Sheila Evans was sleeping inside the home, along with three of her children and three grandchildren, when the fire began. Two dogs also made it out safely.

"I was sleeping good, and I heard somebody say, ‘My house is on fire,' and I jumped up and came out barefooted," said Jean Frasier, Evans' mother, who lives next door. "I came out and when I did, I just grabbed (Evans) and ran because I saw flames going everywhere, so I just grabbed her and sat her down in the road."

The fire began in a bedroom where one of Evans' daughters normally sleeps, Frasier said, but the girl slept elsewhere Thursday night.

"If she would have been here, she would be dead because she sleeps back there," Frasier said. "She would have never had a chance to get out."

Family members said it wasn't the first time a fire broke out in the bedroom.

In the last two weeks, Frasier said there have been three small fires. Evans' son, James Frasier, said an electrician inspected a meter outside the home and found a burnt plug. Frasier said the electrician told them that because the problem didn't exist in the wires, the homeowner was responsible for fixing the problem, not the electrical company.

And the family, as well as other neighbors, said the landlord failed to take action to correct the problem.
"They told the landlord that the whole box where the meter and everything goes had to be replaced," Jean Frasier said.

The property's landlord Russ Parker denied he was at fault for the fire.

"No, there's not a problem with the electrical system," he said. "There's a problem with a cord running from that one to another house."

Parker said an electrician has inspected properties several times and found the problem wasn't with the system but with the amount of amps being handled by the electrical box.

"They were just overloading the system," he said. "There was nothing to fix."

Neighbor Christopher Huffman said his initial reaction to the fire was that he wasn't surprised.

"Running power from trailer to trailer to trailer, overheating the electrical circuits — it doesn't surprise me," he said.

Bonnie Jones, spokeswoman for Jackson EMC, which supplies power to the mobile home park, said crews inspected the property last week because they were told people were stealing power using drop cords. Crews didn't find any evidence of residents stealing power, though.

When crews checked the meter base, Jones said no burnt plugs were found.

"There is no record of us telling them that there was anything wrong with the meter base and needed to be replaced," she said. "The unit that connects our power to any home is a meter base, and your meter plugs into that. The meter on one side belongs to us and the meter on the meter base belongs to the homeowner."

Those meters can be purchased through Jackson EMC.

An independent electrician working for the landlord has been replacing meter bases in the park, Jones said.

"Apparently it's a very old mobile home park. They've got really old equipment, so (the independent electrician) is apparently in the process of changing it out," she said.

With cold temperatures creeping in, Jones said fire danger is more prevalent.

"This is a dangerous time of year," she said. "People who don't have power are doing things like (stealing power) or using space heaters or kerosene heaters."

The American Red Cross is assisting the displaced family. They are temporarily staying in a local hotel.

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