by: Craig Lucie Updated:ATLANTA —
Neighbors rushed to wake up a man as his homecaught fire from a huge blaze next door.
Channel 2’s Craig Lucie and a photographer were on their way to Henry County to cover another story when they spotted black smoke from the Downtown Connector.
As soon as they jumped out of their news vehicle on South Pryor Street, they could feel the intense heat from the flames.
They saw several firefighters gathered on the front porch of a home engulfed in flames and then a fire ball suddenly shot above the firefighter’s heads.
“It was really scary. I was thinking the house was going to explode with natural gas,” said Michael Rowland.
Rowland says when he saw the vacant home smoking he noticed the flames jump to the house next door.
“The neighbor next door thought we were playing some joke and we were like, ‘Come out, and come outside.’ The corner of his house caught fire so finally he came out looked and ran across the street,” explained Rowland.
Nate Smith didn't have time to grab anything and watched in his pajamas as firefighters worked to save his house.
“Someone knocked on the door and woke me up. I’m glad they woke me up. I was knocked out so it worked out,” said Smith.
Once firefighters doused the flames, they worked on the first floor of the vacant house.
Then the fire grew on the second floor, shooting 20 feet into the air with smoke whipping into the sky.
Flames crawled up the side of the home, catching trees and overgrown shrubs on fire creating a problem for fire crews trying to control it.
“The houses in this area are really close together which gives us problems as far exposure to the buildings next door,” said Atlanta Fire Rescue Assistant Chief Chris Wessels.
Smith told Lucie that he couldn't believe how fast the flames moved.
“It was already engulfed. The house was engulfed!” said Smith.
Smith lost the back part of his home, but firefighters were able to knock the flames down before they spread to the front of his house.
Firefighters said they do not know what caused the fire, but investigators will be out on Tuesday to see if they can determine what sparked the flames.