Saturday Fires Cause Extensive Damage

August 5, 2007
Dwayne Page

Fires destroyed one home and caused extensive damage to another residence as well as a pickup truck Saturday.

County Fire Chief Donny Green says the first fire occurred around noon at the mobile home of Gary Hawkins at 6125 Lancaster Road.

Hawkins claims he was connecting a 100 pound propane tank, when flammable gases from the leaking tank ignited, causing the mobile home to catch on fire along with a fiberglass camper shell on his pickup truck.

Hawkins got in the truck and drove it to the Long Branch Camp area near Center Hill Dam, where he backed it down a boat ramp about 25 feet offshore into the lake to extinguish the fire. His efforts at putting out the blaze in this manner were unsuccessful but members of the DeKalb County Fire Department main station and the Temperance Hall station came to the scene and extinguished the fire after Campbell's wrecker service pulled the truck from the water. Members of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the TWRA were also on the scene.

Green says there was apparently no release of pollutants or contaminants into the lake as the result of the burning truck in the water, which would have required an environmental cleanup.

Meanwhile, Hawkins' mobile home was too far gone by the time it was reported and could not be saved. Green says it burned to the ground.

The second fire occurred later in the day at the home of Jonathan Willoughby at 1151 New Home Road.

After a passing thunderstorm, which caused a power outage, the Willoughby family left their residence to visit a neighbor, and the fire started while they were gone.

Green says neighbors reported seeing flames and heavy smoke coming from the Willoughby home.

Firefighters were alerted and rushed to the scene. They were able to keep the fire contained to a front bedroom and the attic area, but the home received extensive heat, smoke, and water damage.

Members of the DeKalb County Fire Department's main station responded along with the Cookeville Highway, Short Mountain Highway, Blue Springs, and Liberty stations as well as DeKalb EMS and county deputies.

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