DOUGLAS COUNTY, Ga. - Fire investigators now believe a Douglas County home burned to the ground and did not explode as some neighbors feared.
Lois Shead's house caught fire late Thursday night, and the flames were so intense, it destroyed everything inside.
Shead, 74, and her family were away on a vacation in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Her daughter Rachel Loren, who also lived in the Douglas home, said they got a call about the bad news around 1 a.m. Friday. When she arrived back at the house, Shead doubled over with grief.
"There's nothing," said Loren. "It took my car. My sister's car and my stepdad's truck that's parked around back. There's not anything left. It's a total loss. All of our photos are gone. All my quilts are gone. My grandmother's quilts are gone. You know, everything."
Loren said the family had lived in that house since 1988. Shead lost her husband to cancer last year, and this family trip to Tennessee was supposed to help her get through her loss.
"You know, God has a way of doing things," said Loren. "There was a reason for us not to be there. So everybody's safe. Everybody's healthy, and we'll just rebuild and move on."
Neighbors reported hearing explosions coming from the house, leading some to think the house simply blew up.
"I don't really know what I heard," said neighbor Debbie Foster. "I just know that something woke me up from sleep. Loud. I don't know if it was an explosion or what woke me up, but it was loud."
Investigators feel certain the house caught fire. They speculate that something inside the house, such as a smaller propane canister or old ammunition may have ignited in the intense heat.
Loren said her family has insurance and will attempt to rebuild. Until then, they plan to stay with other family members nearby.
"We thank God 100,000 times on the way home," said Loren. "If it had exploded, we don't know that it did, but we would never have got out."