Posted: Saturday, November 2nd 2013 at 8:51pm
House fire displaces western Hall County family
By Marc Eggers Staff
GAINESVILLE – Neighbors lined Fieldstone Drive watching in disbelief as the home of Philip and Jennie Nelson was being devoured by a late afternoon fire. Residents of The Chimneys Subdivision off Ledan Road in western Hall County all asked the same thing as they approached the 3000 square-foot residence, "Was everybody out safely?"
Additional fire units from Hall County were beginning to arrive, scrambling to assemble equipment and join in the attack on flames that were now shooting through the roof of the two-story, vinyl-sided home.
Next door neighbor Reagan Puckett said that according to the information on her cell phone she called 9-1-1 at 6:21 p.m. to report the emergency.
Two other neighbors took things a step farther once they were able to determine that no one was at home, entering the house through a side door and rescuing the family dog, Max. They also had the foresight to grab a set of keys they found and back a lone car in the garage out into the yard.
“I was on the back porch and saw the fire and came running out and I met the guy that lives across the road,” neighbor Joanne Brook explained. "He kicked the back door in and I went into the front part of the house to find Max."
The Nelsons were away visiting Philip’s parents in Gainesville when he received a phone call that there was a fire at their house.
"I maybe was expecting just a little, tiny fire or something, but this is beyond comprehension," Philip Nelson said. "On the way over here on Thompson Bridge Road I kept saying, 'I don’t see any fire, I don’t see any smoke.'"
"Then coming down Ledan I looked over and I could see smoke about where I knew our house was, and then it hit me like a ton of bricks," Nelson added.
Hall County Fire Captain Mark Arnold said first arriving crews found heavy fire at the front of the house and worked to knock the flames back so firefighters arriving moments later could begin an interior attack.
"Once they did they were able to knock it down in about twenty minutes," Arnold said.
Arnold said units from three stations responded to the call. "There’s heavy damage on the second floor of the house. A lot of smoke and water damage on the first floor, but it is also heavily damaged."
The close-knit community showered the Nelsons with offers of a place to stay. They said that they will be staying with family members for the near future.
Hall County Fire Marshal Scott Cagle wants to remind everyone to replace the batteries in their smoke detectors tonight as they also move their clocks back one hour to Standard Time.
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