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Fires ravage two homes in two weeks
fire victims Hunter  Moore
John Hunter and his fiancee Geneva Moore. - photo by Ross Blair

A Richmond Hill woman lost her home to a fiery blaze Tuesday. Her home was the second in the last two weeks to be declared a total loss due to a structure fire.

When city and county firefighters arrived at Charlene Mills’ double-wide trailer at 154 Clark St., near the fish hatchery, at 2:30 a.m. Tuesday, the home was already "too far gone" to be saved because it was fully engulfed in flames, according to RHFD Chief Vernon Rushing.

Richmond Hill resident Amanda Wathen was driving by the residence and called 911 from her cell phone upon witnessing flames emitting from a room in the home.

"I drove back by five minutes later and the entire place was covered in flames," Wathen said.

Mills was out of town at the time of the fire and no injuries were reported.

Rushing said the fire crew rummaged through the debris multiple times during the incident to make sure the home was vacant. Mills’ brother reportedly called her in Jenkins County from Richmond Hill later that morning to break the news to her.

Rushing said around 20 firefighters using two trucks extinguished the fire in about an hour.

The origin of the fire was the living/dining room in the center of the structure, Rushing said. Although no definite cause was reported, he suspects lightning may have caused the fire.

The following day, lightning struck a home at 66 Woodcock Drive in the Pierceville subdivision.

The house suffered minor damage, according to RHFD after lightning hit the dryer vent near the roof, causing smoke.

"The storms we received this past week did a lot to help our drought conditions, but brought with it the existing danger that presents itself when lightning strikes," said Bryan County Emergency Services Director Jim Anderson. "You take the good with the bad as there’s no controlling mother nature. All we can ask for is that our local firefighters are on their toes, and they proved that they are indeed up to the challenge by containing it as much as was possible."

On July 22, another mobile home was completely destroyed by fire.

The residence at 150 Dixie Road, the now-former home of John Hunter, was destroyed by flames that reportedly started in the laundry room. Bryan County Assistant Fire Chief Otis Willis said that a cause could not clearly be established was so heavily damaged."

Willis said 18 city and county firefighters used one truck to contain the fire within 20 minutes.

He said the decision was made to fight the fire from the exterior of the home because "nothing could be gained from fighting it from the inside as we could clearly tell the home was a total loss" and to avoid it from spreading to the surrounding area.

No injuries were reported as no one was home during the blaze.

Hunter, who lived at the residence with his fiancée and two children, said he and his family were attending Revelation Redeem Resurrection Church at around 11:30 a.m. when a neighbor came running up to him to tell him about the fire.

Hunter said they quickly returned home to find the place in flames.

Hunter said his family is currently homeless as insurance did not cover the damages.

He said he has been sleeping in his car for the most part while his children and fiancée have been staying with relatives.

Hunter and his fiancée, Geneva Moore, were slated to be married the same week of the fire, but their wedding plans had to be postponed following the loss of their home.

Hunter said the Red Cross put them up in a hotel for a couple nights and helped with some clothes and food, but they are in dire financial shape due to the incident.

Donations can be made to a relief fund to help the Hunters. The fund has been set up at Heritage Bank inside the Richmond Hill Kroger.


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