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Two escape fire; woman evacuates pets in nearby shop
Esther Patterson and son Alan survey the damage done Thursday morning to their apartment on Atlanta Highway in Flowery Branch. Fire gutted the lower and upper apartments units. No one was hurt in the blaze.

Donald Kight had just arrived home from work when he learned a fire was burning in the apartment just beneath him.

“I came inside, took my boots off, about to feed my cat,” Kight said. “I hear ‘help me, help me!’”

He said he recognized the voice as his neighbor’s and came outside to see one of the two residents of the lower apartment, Alan Patterson, lying on the ground outside. Kight called 911 as he watched the fire light up the second floor, his own home.

Hall County Fire Services responded at around 7 a.m. to the two-unit apartment at 3703 Atlanta Highway just north of Old Plainview Road

He and Patterson were the only ones home as the fire blazed.

“I woke up to it,” said Patterson, who was in his bedroom when it began.

“I have no idea what happened,” said Patterson’s mother, Esther Patterson. “I left for work and it was fine. And now it’s not.”

She said she went to do her bus route in Oakwood and got a call from the bus shop that her house was on fire. She arrived to her son and dog, Angel, safe outside but a blackened and ruined home.

Although many things were lost, Patterson stayed optimistic.

“Fortunately the only Christmas present I bought so far is in the trunk of the car,” she said.

The two plan to stay with Esther Patterson’s mother in Braselton until other arrangements are made.

“It’s the season for fires,” she said.

Firefighters prevented the flames from spreading to the neighboring pet grooming shop, The Dog House. Both the shop and apartment are owned by Donna and Randy Ertzberger.

Donna Ertzberger was among the first to arrive. As soon as she knew everyone was out of the buildings, she began removing the cats and dogs from the grooming shop by crates, according to her husband, Randy Ertzberger. According to the fire department there were between 15 and 20 animals.

Between coughs, Donna Ertzberger explained how the officials reacted.

“They told me they were going to arrest me because I wouldn’t quit looking for the animals,” she said. None were injured.

The apartment units are now uninhabitable, according to the fire department. The cause has not yet been determined.