Citronella candle to blame for destroying family's ‘dream house'

by: Mike Petchenik Updated:

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ROSWELL, Ga. - Haqiah Abdullah Lee found her new Roswell home in August and had poured money into it to provide a great place for her daughters to grow up.

But Tuesday night, as her family celebrated the end of a long remodel job, her dream house burned to the ground.

“I put my money into making this an awesome house for my daughters and invited the family over because it’s almost done,” she told Channel 2’s Mike Petchenik. “They were coming in to lay down the floors today and it would have been done on Friday.”

Abdullah Lee said as her family cooked and sang Gospel songs, she began to smell smoke.

“I see flames and smoke and I told everybody to run, there’s a fire,” she said.

She said flames from a citronella candle had apparently ignited material in the garage, causing fire to spread quickly through the home.

“We went running out the door. Everyone came out front. We looked around and didn’t see my 2-year-old daughter and everyone started freaking out, screaming,” she said.


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Abdullah Lee’s brother, Abdulmatin Abdullah, told Petchenik he immediately went back into the house to look for the toddler.

“I’m crawling around, wall-hugging in the office, on the floor looking for the baby and I didn’t see her,” he said, holding back tears.“It went from a festive moment to complete, sheer horror and panic in an instant.”

Mr. Abdullah said a huge wave of relief overcame him when he saw that his younger brother had scooped up the little girl and gotten her outside.

“I was so grateful she was outside,” he said. “I gave her the biggest hug.”

While much of the home is now gutted, the Abdullahs told Petchenik they were grateful nobody was seriously hurt and that they were able to salvage several photo albums.

“The house is gone, but I got my sisters, I got my brothers and we’re good,” said Abdullah Lee. “It’s gonna be OK.”