GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - A man whose wife and two children were killed in a house fire says he tried everything he could to save them.
Brent Patterson says he and his wife, Kathy, were putting their 9- and 11-year-old daughters to bed at their home on Pointer Ridge in Gwinnett County Tuesday night when he heard a popping sound.
He went downstairs to check it out, and was forced out of the house by the flames. He says he yelled up to his wife and daughters, Madelyn and Kayla, to get out of the house.
“I came downstairs, I opened the front door and it's like the place exploded. I tried to get back in -- it was too hot,” Patterson told Channel 2’s Tony Thomas. “I couldn’t get back in because the fire came around and it came up the stairway. I did everything I could.”
Patterson and neighbors then tried from the outside to get to the family, but the flames were too intense.
“Me and my neighbor, we got a shovel and we went and broke the back glass on the back door and the heat was just so much there was no way we could back in,” he said.
Firefighters say even they couldn't go into the home at first because the fire was so intense.
Patterson returned to the home on Wednesday. Neighbors brought him shoes and clothes as they tried to comfort him.
“They're dead, I couldn't save them. I tried. I tried to save them, I tried,” Patterson said. “They were the best family anyone could ever have.”
Friends and church members gathered at Tucker United Methodist Church, where the Pattersons attended church, to pray for the family.
Friends say the family was very involved in the church, and Kathy was well-known in the Tucker area for leading several dance troupes in area congregations.
“Just full of life, and the girls were so precious and gave hugs to people who came into the sanctuary,” friend Laurie Golding said.
Investigators say no foul play is suspected in the blaze. They believe it started in the first-floor living room near an electric powered reclining couch that was located across from the fireplace. The flames quickly spread to the second floor through a heat return vent and a mechanical/HVAC closet.
Fire crews also found the family dog dead inside the home Wednesday morning.
“Firefighters buried the dog in the backyard as a show of respect due to the overwhelming loss sustained by the family. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the family and friends of the victims during this difficult time,” the fire department said in a statement.
Friends are hoping to raise money for the Patterson family. CLICK HERE for details.