Dawson Fire 2

All that remains of three homes in Burt’s Crossing subdivision is charred ruins. Officials state the cause was improper discarding of fireworks.

Fireworks spark early morning blaze that destroyed three homes

Radiant heat damages more, no one injured

By: Denise Ray, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Editor's Note: Information on how you can help follows at the end of this article

Investigators said fireworks that were disposed of improperly sparked the July 5 structure fire that resulted in the destruction of three Dawsonville residences.

A resident of 48 Burt’s Crossing stated that he had discharged fireworks July 4, sprayed them off with a garden hose, then threw them away, according to Dawson County Emergency Services Director Danny Thompson.

The fire started at 48 Burt’s Crossing and quickly spread to 38 and 60 Burt’s Crossing. The three houses were “well-involved” when emergency personnel arrived on scene minutes after midnight. With mutual aid from Forsyth County, the fire was under control by 1:16 a.m, Thompson said.
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Three nearby homes sustained radiant heat damage from the intensity of the initial fire but are considered “liveable”.

Thompson said the initial, preliminary cause was improper discarding of fireworks, which was later confirmed by State Fire Marshall spokesperson Glenn Allen, adding that the fire has been ruled accidental.

State investigators say no charges will be filed.

According to Thompson eleven people were displaced by the fire and the Red Cross had been called to assist them.

“No firefighter or civilian injuries were reported,” Thompson said.

Praise for first responders

Michelle Martin, of 29 Winding Creek Road, awoke to the sound of the fire crackling through her bedroom window. Martin and her family evacuated the house, temporarily keeping their pets in another neighbor’s yard until it was safe to return.

“It was devasting,” Martin said.

She has a new respect for firefighters, adding “what they do is incredible”.

A Dawson County deputy assisted Martin with gathering up pets to take them to safety. The officer raised her king size bed so Martin could reach her chihuahua. The deputy then returned to the house and retrieved a large cage with Martin’s daughter Jessica’s two beloved guinea pigs.

“The whole time this inferno next door looked like lava,” she said. “Just everywhere. It was intense. He didn’t have to do that. I don’t know who he is, it all happened so quickly, I didn’t get his name. I would like to thank him if I got the opportunity. It meant a lot.”

In addition to Martin’s house, 68 Burt's Crossing Drive and 10 Winding Creek Court sustained exterior damage but are still livable.

Neighbor Kevin Wachtel, another Burt’s Crossing Drive resident, was awoken by relatives visiting for the July 4th holiday.

“I came outside and saw three houses on fire,” he said. “The whole neighborhood was out, banging on doors and windows, getting everybody out. We didn’t know what direction it [the fire] was gonna go.”

Wachtel was also impressed by the efforts of firefighters.

“They did a great job,” he said. “They were here quickly. They did their job really well.”

Dawson First

Dawson Fire 1
Members of Dawson FIRST gather outside Station 2 after graduation July 5. Earlier that same day, the group experienced its first call to support firefighters at a structure fire that claimed three homes in Dawsonville.

Dawson First (Fast Incident Response Support Team), a small group of community volunteers who provide support during county emergencies. They were called to the scene and put their nearly year-long FEMA, GEMA and CERT training to use and were able to provide behind-the-scene assistance to firefighters. By rolling hoses and changing air packs the group was able to save valuable firefighter time in getting the fire under control. They also kept personnel hydrated with bottles of water and oranges.

“That was a difficult scene with a fast-moving, wind-driven fire,” Dawson County Deputy Fire Chief Danny Speaks said. “It was a difficult night.”

Under the direction of Station 2 Firefighter/EMT Dennis Fedoruk and Dennis LaGatta, Station 8 Support Firefighter/EMT, the core group ironically re-convened later that evening for their graduation ceremony.

Speaks was quick to praise their efforts during the pre-dawn blaze.

“You would not believe the amount of compliments from the guys on scene who said [to me] thank you for calling them [Dawson First] up,” he shared. “You guys got the call came up and went above and beyond, so thank you.”

Since October 2017, the group has committed over 1,200 hours of training in community emergency response, support firefighter skills and emergency medical response capabilities, according to Fedoruk.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

The Burt's Crossing Homeowners' association is collecting gift cards to give to the three families displaced by the fire.

Sarah Vasquez, member of the HOA board, is collecting the cards and said they will be dispersed to help the 11 people who lost their homes and all of their belongings. She can be reached at (404) 406-6440.

The board has also organized fundraisers for the three families, and Vasquez said Thursday that Fajita Grill in Dawsonville will be donating 20 percent of sales after 5 p.m. Thursday, July 12 and

Pizza Azzurri in Cumming will be donating 15 percent of sales after 4 p.m. July 23. A RIC Rack in Dawsonville is also serving as a donation site for people wishing to drop off items of clothing or other personal items for the families. The store is located at 829 Hwy. 9 and business hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

A GoFundMe page has been set up for Amy Rubright, whose family lost their home in the fire. 

Mandy McCracken in the Gold Creek subdivision is also collecting gift cards for the families. She can be reached at (706) 525-8060.

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