Georgia News

Monday, August 3, 2020

Two people killed in Columbus apartment fire, more than two dozen displaced

VIDEO: The two men killed in a massive overnight fire at Midtown Park Apartments in Columbus that also displaced dozens of people have been identified. Muscogee County Chief Deputy Coroner Freeman Worley says 42-year-old Donald Lechowicz and 65-year-old Herman McCikens died as a result of the fire. More than two dozen Columbus residents were displaced, waking up as their apartment complex goes up in flames and smoke. Crews say they are confident that everyone inside the building at the time of the fire is out of the building, but are continuing a thorough search to be certain. The fire started just before midnight on Friday, July 31 at Midtown Park Apartments on 12th Street. Julie Lechowiez lives upstairs in unit 210 and says the fire may have started in her apartment. “My pitbull has a bad habit of playing really rough, maybe he knocked the candle over,” said Lechowiez.
WTVM-TV ABC 9 Columbus

Gainesville house fire leaves one hospitalized in serious condition

The Gainesville Fire Department was able to quickly extinguish the flames of a local house fire late Friday night. The fire occurred on the 400 block of Prior Street around 10:30pm, with reports of a person still inside the residence. A bystander was able to help remove the occupant, who had suffered smoke inhalation. The resident, a woman estimated to be in her mid-20's, was taken to Northeast Georgia Medical Center for treatment. She is currently listed in serious condition. Damages to the home were estimated to be around $10,000, with fire damage to one room and smoke damage to the home's living room and exterior. Officials said that water damage was minimal. The scene was turned over to the property owner after crews confirmed all hotspots and smoke had cleared.
WGCL-TV CBS 46 Atlanta

Paulding County First Responder, Trainer Retires After 24 Years

A longtime first responder with Paulding County Fire & Rescue retired Thursday after 24 years on the job. Steve Mattix was already working for DeKalb County when he was recruited by his hometown Paulding County fire department as its training officer. Mattix's experience was especially important as Paulding County's fire department grew from all-volunteer to professional. Mattix trained and mentored hundreds of personnel, who all appreciated his penchant for using humor to teach, said Lt. Steve Mapes, spokesperson for Paulding County Fire & Rescue. He finished the last few years of his career in Paulding County as a fire apparatus operator, most recently responsible for Engine 8 in the Crossroads area. Mattix also retired recently from DeKalb County Fire & Rescue after 30 years of service. He served DeKalb as a captain and was frequently called up as an acting battalion chief.
Dallas-Hiram Patch

Troup County community celebrates opening of fire administration building

A ribbon cutting and grand opening ceremony was held Thursday for the Troup County Fire Administration Building and Emergency Operations Center. Community members gathered to celebrate the opening of the newly constructed building, which was completed in the spring. The building offers several additional amenities to the Troup County Fire Department. “With the addition of this new facility, we were able to successfully acquire enhanced training capabilities for our firefighters, as well as a brand new centralized location for the Troup County Emergency Operations Center, which has already been a huge benefit to the community during the current pandemic,” said County Manager Eric Mosley. The building accommodates administrative offices, meeting areas, classroom space for the enhanced training capabilities, and the Troup County Operations Center.
WTVM-TV ABC 9 Columbus

Rabun County: Fires destroy home on Lake Burton, damage one in Clayton

Separate fires on opposite ends of Rabun County kept firefighters busy early Saturday, resulting in damage at a Clayton home and destroying a home on Lake Burton. Rabun County Fire Services Stations 1, 6 and 12 responded to 143 Begonia Court, Clayton, at 3:38 a.m. for a fire in an occupied single-family home. First arriving units reported fire showing from the eaves of an attached garage of a 1,500-square-foot home, said Rabun County Assistant Fire Chief Justin Upchurch. “A quick attack was made and that resulted in a fast knockdown with the fire contained to the garage area with the only extension into the wall between the garage and living area,” Upchurch said. “The last apparatus left the scene at 6:22am. The fire is thought to have been caused by lightning.”

Friday, July 31, 2020

Butts County mourning loss of firefighter/paramedic Scott ’Monster’ Thomas

The Butts County public safety community is mourning the loss of one of its own after Firefighter/Paramedic and Deputy County Coroner Scott "Monster" Thomas passed away on July 29. Thomas started work for the fire department in August 2004 and was a full time employee until August 2018, when he became part time. He served as a deputy coroner from 2013 to 2019. Thomas also worked as an EMT in Spalding County. Thomas was a cancer survivor. Butts County Fire Chief Mike Wilson posted on the BCFD Facebook page that a "true servant of the people" has been lost. "Scott 'Monster' Thomas has been a fixture of the Butts County Fire Department for many years," he wrote. "Monster always had a kind word and was a true man of God. He loved his family, his job, and the people he came in contact with on the job. He loved the community that he served."
Jackson Progress-Argus

Four Valdosta firefighters climb the ranks

“We’re blessed in so many ways,” Valdosta Fire Chief Brian Boutwell said Thursday. During a virtual promotion ceremony, he reflected on Valdosta Fire Department traditions that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. As he spoke to four firefighters who were becoming sergeants, he noted the obstacles they’ve overcome not only because of the pandemic but also in their roles. “We’re still getting to enjoy today,” Boutwell said. “You’re still here today. Congratulations. Congratulations on your achievements. You were challenged to get here and will continue to face challenges.” Lamar Berrian, Brandon Tebedo, T.J. Manus and Nicholas Kester were all promoted to sergeants at the ceremony. Family members each pinned their loved ones as they changed ranking. A city statement explained attendance was limited to immediate family members and select city officials only to follow social distancing guidelines.
Valdosta Daily Times

Coronavirus hits Atlanta firefighters sending about a dozen home

The city of Atlanta sent ten more firefighters home Thursday after it was revealed one firefighter had contracted COVID-19. Dozens are away from their stations right now, either starting or ending a quarantine period. The president of the union said the impact of the virus can be significant in any fire department due to how these government employees work. Firefighters live together during part of the week, and then go home the rest of the week. "We are concerned, sure," Paul Gerdis said. He added the fire department has a great plan for how they work when they go out to treat a coronavirus patient. "Initially, we send only one firefighter inside the home to limit exposure," the union leader said. "If the patient can walk out, we ask them to do that." But having enough healthy and rested firefighters to get to your emergency is a challenge right now.
WAGA-TV Fox 5 Atlanta

Cherokee County fire department recognizes employees for recent accomplishments

Cherokee County Fire and Emergency Services recently recognized four of its employees at agency headquarters for their recent accomplishments. Fire Chief Tim Prather first recognized Capt. Nathan Roper for receiving an Associate Degree in Fire Science. Similarly, Kristi Wigington was recognized for obtaining her Bachelor of Science degree in Fire Department Administration. Prior to obtaining her degree, Wigington also completed her Associate Degree in Fire Science. Finally, Assistant Fire Chief Eddie Robinson and Field Operations Chief Shane West were recognized for receiving their certificates for Local Government Management from the University of Georgia.
Cherokee Tribune & Ledger News

Fire destroys Bostwick house

A house on Price Mill Road in Bostwick was engulfed in flames on the early morning of Monday, July 27. A neighbor called emergency services at 8 a.m. to report a fire had broken out at the residence located at 1565 Price Mill Road. “The house was about 20 to 30 percent engulfed at the time of the call,” said Morgan Fire Chief Jeff Stone. By time the first firefighters arrives from Bostwick eight minutes later, the house was about 60 percent engulfed in flames, according to Stone. The fire was a difficult one for responders to extinguish. “The hydrant was located at the roadway, but due to over 2,000 feet of hose having to be laid out, the pressure was greatly reduced and caused a significant delay in applying enough water to gain control of the fire,” explained Stone. “Oconee County Fire was called and with their assistance and placing a third engine at the hydrant to boost the pressure, units and personnel were then able to gain control of the fire and finally make a stop.” According to Stone, nine units and 11 personnel from Morgan County Fire were on the scene.
Morgan County Citizen

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