by: Richard Elliot Updated:
VILLA RICA, Ga. - State and local fire investigators are trying to determine what sparked a fire that killed two residents inside a Carroll County assisted-living home Tuesday night.
Family members identified one of the victims as 50-year old Michael Ray Todd. They said Todd was burned so badly as a 10-month-old baby it caused him physical and mental disabilities. They said he had been living at Hope House One on Parker Street after his family was unable to care for him.
"Being burned one time as a child and then to have to leave the world being burnt a second time is unusual," said Todd's cousin, Charlene Swint-Pounds. "But God doesn't make any mistakes."
Investigators used dogs to sniff around the burned remains of Hope House as they tried to determine how the fire started. They have not identified the second victim or the caretaker who was home when the fire broke out.
Swint-Pounds said the caretaker told them she did all she could to rescue Todd.
"She said she tried to pick Michael Ray up, but since Michael Ray was so heavy and she being so small, she couldn't allegedly get him," said Swint-Pounds.
Former Haralson County firefighter Roderick Dobbs said he approached the fire just as the caretaker was running down the road yelling for help.
"She was screaming, 'I tried to get them out,’" said Dobbs. "She was screaming, 'They're in there. They're in there.' I ran up and tried to go up to the back of the house, but when I went to the back of the house, you couldn't get to him because it was too hot."
State records show Hope House One had been open five years and was cited for three minor violations during its last inspection, but nothing related to fire safety. One investigator said the home's employees ran a fire drill June 18.
Investigators are looking through their records to see if the Hope House had fire evacuation plans and fire extinguishers. They also said it was listed as a smoke-free facility, though people were allowed to smoke outside the house. Fire investigators will look to see if that played a role in the fire.