• 14 homes damaged after extreme heat fuels neighborhood fire

    By: Carl Willis


    HENRY COUNTY, Ga. -  

    More than two dozen people were were forced out of their homes after a fire, fueled by heat and humidity, destroyed their houses.

    The Henry County fire chief said a total of 14 homes were damaged, and seven of those were destroyed on Saturday.

    "All I could do is get my boys out of the house and the neighbors out of the house, but it went up in like five minutes," said James Hudson.

    He said he heard a popping noise and realized his home was on fire.

    He said he was no match for the fast-moving fire that started at his home and spread to 13 others in the Flippen Woods subdivision on Goldenrod Drive and Watercress Court in Stockbridge.

    "It was like three to four minutes and the house was engulfed," he said.

    Henry County Fire Chief Bill Lacy said his department arrived at the scene just four minutes after getting the call.

    However, within four minutes of their arrival, four homes had flames shooting from their attics.

    "It's a very hot day," said Lacy. "It appears the fire jumped from attic to attic on these structures."

    Fire crews said the day's scorching temperatures played a part in fueling the fire and keeping crews at bay.

    "It helped the material to be drier, so it ignited quicker and also it helped with our fatigue and our being able to get in and get what we needed done," said Battalion Chief Barry Cooper.

    Firefighters had to carry anywhere from 75 to 100 pounds of gear with them in temperature reaching 105 degrees.

    Still, Clifton Jefferies said the only person who needed medical help was his roommate, who firefighters said had trouble breathing.

    Jefferies said she suffered from heat exhaustion after escaping their house.

    "The top floor is just totally gone. There's nothing else there," said Jefferies.

    Late Saturday night the seven affected families salvaged what they could.

    Their only comfort is no one was seriously hurt.

    "Everybody lost something, whether it's sentimental or not, but we still have life," said James Hudson. "So, I just thank God that my boys are all right. I thank God that each family out here is all right. We each have somewhere to go."

    According to the Red Cross,25 people were offered help with housing and other needs.

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