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Lightning starts fire, response saves homes

Army NCO, family lose possessions

POSTED: July 27, 2017 9:40 a.m.
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Firefighters work to control flames at one of the houses.

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It’s a good thing there are firefighters.

No one was injured when a lightning strike damaged three homes Monday night in a Richmond Hill subdivision, but the resulting fire reportedly left one Army sergeant and his family without many of their possessions.

A gofundme account set up on behalf of Sgt. First Class Jason Edmunds by a fellow soldier, Douglas Leavitt, had raised more than $2,600 of the $3,000 goal by Wednesday afternoon.

You can get to the gofundme page for Edmunds here: https://www.gofundme.com/support-edmunds-family.

Edmunds and his three daughters were home when it was struck by lightning and the fire began, but got out unharmed. Their home suffered heavy damage to its roof and attic, according to Richmond Hill Fire Chief Ralph Catlett.

He said Richmond Hill Fire Department firefighters were called to the fire at 297 Teal Lake Drive at 8:20 p.m., and arrived just four minutes later.

They found fire burning through the roof and both sides of Edmunds’ home, and the heat from the blaze was melting siding on homes on each side of the burning house.

Within 15 minutes, firefighters from RHFD and Bryan County Fire Department had the fire under control, and by 10 p.m. RHFD firefighters cleared the scene.

Catlett praised those who responded. He also noted events could have turned out much differently.

"I am extremely proud of my firefighters. All the countless hours of training on being aggressive and using the right tactics for the situation proved to the difference between having only damage to three homes to the possible loss of three homes," he said. "Our firefighters are committed to providing our citizens and visitors a professional and efficient service and this fire was just an example of their capabilities and what they do each and every day."

He also noted Bryan County came to the fire under the departments’ mutual agreement to back each other up.

"I also would like to thank Chief Freddy Howell and his personnel that responded. We have found time and time again when our departments work together there is nothing we cannot handle. This fire was just another example of that," he said.

Fort Stewart officials reportedly also assisted the family.

All told, there were three city fire engines, a city fire command unit and a dozen RHFD firefighters. Also responding were two RHPD units, the BCFD engine with six firefighters and one Bryan County EMS unit.

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