‘It moved fast:’ DeKalb homeowner says he lost everything in overnight house fire

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — A homeowner in DeKalb County says he has likely lost everything after a fire ripped through his home while he was asleep.

Several crews were called to a home in the 1400 block of Panola Road around 1 a.m. after neighbors noticed smoke coming from the home and called them.

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Fire officials say when their crews arrived on the scene, everyone was out of the home and they could see lots of flames and smoke coming from the house.

They were able to determine the flames were coming from the back of the house and quickly put it out, but not before it destroyed a significant portion of the home.

Theophilus Gardner, who owns the home, says he is grateful for the neighbors who woke him and his family up, and says he hopes this can be a learning lesson.

“It moved fast. It was a learning lesson for all of us though because I’ve never seen one move that fast,” he said.

Gardner told Channel 2 Action News that once he was awake, he tried to exit through the door, but the flames started coming in once he opened it. That paired with the heavy smoke forced the family to escape the house through a window.

He also said that he wanted to go back inside to get his wallet, but once he could see pieces of the roof falling, decided against it.

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While Gardner says it appears they have lost everything, he won’t know until he can get back inside the house. For now, he is grateful they have their lives.

“That’s the thing I love the most about it. We were all able to get out,” he said.

No one was injured because of the fire, but officials say one firefighter twisted his ankle getting off of the truck.

Fire officials also say that arson investigators are being called to the home to determine the cause of the fire.