Firefighters Respond to Residential, School and Business Fires

The school fire was determined to have been intentional.

Barrow County Emergency Services personnel responded to multiple fires this week, including a residential fire, a blaze at a local middle school and a business fire. 

At 3:25 a.m. Wednesday, communication officers received a 911 call reporting a fire at 1093 Dee Kennedy Road.

“Upon arrival of firefighters we found the home to be heavily involved with fire through the roof,” Battalion Chief Rob Nowakowski said in a news release. “We had to fight the fire from the outside of the home due to the amount of fire.”

Firefighting efforts were hampered by the collapse of the roof and floor into the basement of the home, which resulted in extensive damage. Six adults were displaced as a result. The American Red Cross responded to assist the adults. The cause is under investigation by the Fire Investigation team.

At 10:59 a.m. Thursday, communication officers received a 911 call reporting a fire at Westside Middle School. Students had reported to a teacher that smoke was showing in the gymnasium. The teacher investigated and found smoke in the bathroom with fire showing in a bathroom stall. The teacher then pulled the fire alarm to evacuate the school and notify the fire department. Engine 4, Ladder Truck 7, Med 4, Med 7 and Battalion 1 responded to this incident.

“Upon arrival we found smoke showing in the gym,” Battalion Chief Mike Stoops said. “Upon further investigation the fire was found to be in the bathroom and controlled by the sprinkler system.”  Firefighters were able to extinguish the fire quickly. Firefighters worked with the school systems maintenance crews to remove smoke from the gym area.

Smoke and fire damage was contained to the gymnasium, which was not attached to the school, allowing the students to return to their classes shortly after firefighters extinguished the fire.

“The cause of this fire was determined to be an intentional human act,” Chief Fire Investigator Blair Darst said. “The toilet paper and holder were set on fire which extended up the wall of the stall causing the sprinkler to activate.”

Suspects have been identified in this incident, which is being investigated jointly by the Fire Investigation Team and the Barrow County Sheriff’s Office.

Early Thursday afternoon, communication officers received a 911 call reporting a fire at an electrical transformer at 107 E. Star St. in Bethlehem. Engine 3, Ladder Truck 7, Med 3 and Battalion 1 responded. Upon arrival firefighters were informed by staff at the business that the transformer had leaked and then ignited. The fire had been extinguished prior to arrival of firefighters. Georgia Power responded to repair the transformer.

At 11:07 p.m. Thursday, communication officers received a 911 call reporting a possible vehicle explosion with extension into the home at a Thomas Drive residence. Engine 4, Engine 5, Med 4 and Battalion 1 responded to this incident. Upon arrival firefighters found a van fully involved in fire. Crews extinguished the fire quickly with no extension into the home. The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Fire Investigation Team.

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