Cherokee County

15-year-old wakes up family, neighbors as fire spreads to six homes in Cherokee County neighborhood

HOLLY SPRINGS, Ga. — Firefighters are calling a 15-year-old a hero after a fast-moving fire ripped through several homes in Cherokee County.

Jaymel Napoleon and his family escaped the fire in their own home and then went door-to-door to warn his neighbors.

“I just did what had to be done. Adrenaline kicks in. it’s just instinct,” Napoleon said.

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The intense fire destroyed three homes and damaged three others on Hidden Creek Lane.

“I’m waking up, I’m hear a crackling noise. And popping,” Napoleon told Channel 2′s Chris Jose.

Napoleon was the first one to notice the flames outside on the porch around 3:30 a.m. Wednesday.

“I walk upstairs, and I just started shouting, ‘fire, fire, fire.’ So everyone got out,” Napoleon said.


He ran to a backdoor, hopped a fence and warned his neighbors.

Diego Velirdz lives next door.

“When he said, ‘fire in the house,’ we started running. Everybody ran downstairs,” Velirdz said.

Diego got his wife and three kids out safely.

The fire gutted their home, too.

“It’s only material stuff. We’re OK. We’re alive,” Velirdz said.

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Some houses were left charred down to the framing. The heat from the fire also melted the siding to some neighboring homes.

Tim Cavender is spokesperson for Cherokee Fire…

“Safe to call him a hero?” Jose asked Tom Cavender, spokesperson for Cherokee Fire & Emergency Services.

“I would. I think he was a hero. I think he possibly saved a lot of lives,” Cavender said.

Cavender said 40 firefighters from five different stations all rushed to the scene.

With the homes stacked close together, Cavender told Jose that crews had to work quickly.

Cherokee County Fire Investigators are still in the neighborhood trying to determine what started the fire. The American Red Cross is helping the families involved.