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Blaze destroys firefighters home
Richmond Hill firefighter Michael Cooper

Richmond Hill firefighter Michael Cooper and his family lost their home and most of their possessions to a house fire early Friday morning.

Cooper said he awoke around 3 a.m. to the sight of flames inside the home at 130 Spruce Street.

He said there were six people inside the home – his mother, sister, brother-in-law and two nephews – but no one was injured. His mother, Kathy Cooper, is a teacher’s assistant at Richmond Hill High School.

Richmond Hill Fire Chief Vernon Rushing said it appears that an electrical fire sparked inside an external wall of the home.

"It went up the wall and into the attic," Rushing said. "About half of the home was completely destroyed by fire, and smoke damage got the other half."

Rushing said the tragedy has hit home for the department.

"We see fires all the time, but it’s rare that this happens to a brother – and that’s what Michael is to us because this department is like a family."

Cooper, 22, said he has lived at the residence all his life, which makes the situation that much more difficult. He said it was a surreal experience to have his co-workers dispatched to his own home, but they have been a tremendous source of support for him during this tragedy.

Rushing said a fund in Cooper’s name has been set up at Bryan Bank and Trust, and he urges residents to either contribute to the fund or donate clothing to the family, which can be dropped off at the station.

Clothing needed includes clothes for 2 and 4 year old males, 24 year old female size 14 pants and extra large shirts, female size 24 pants and 2X shirts, male size 36 pants and large shirts.

Donations can also be mailed to: Firefighter Michael Cooper Recovery Fund, c/o Sheena Holmes, P.O. Box 1299, Richmond Hill, Ga. 31324.

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