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By JASON ESPY
A string of unfortunate events has left a Summerville couple without a home at the end of this holiday season.
Ray and Mary Caldwell’s home at 1022 Martin Street burned around 3:30 p.m. last Thursday while the couple was on a trip.
“We were in Cartersville when we got a call that our house was on fire,” Ray said.
The family rushed back to their home and found the flames, smoke and water had destroyed their home.
“It’s rough. We are going to try to build back if we can get the money up,” Ray said.
Summerville Fire Chief Robbie Lathem believes the fire might have started with the stove.
“There wasn’t anything on the stove,” the chief said. “It was a malfunction with the stove itself.”
The Caldwells believe the fire was an electrical issue that started with a tree falling outside their home two days prior.
On Tuesday, Dec. 28, a large tree across the street fell across the road and onto their truck. An electrical transformer belonging to Georgia Power Inc., was also damaged by the falling tree, Caldwell said.
The power company replaced the power transformer on Wednesday. Then on Thursday the fire happened.
“(The power company) is going to send someone out to do some investigating,” Ray said.
He believes the power company failed to inspect and test the transformer and that it caused the fire in the Caldwell home the next day.
“They did not even check the transformer out,” Caldwell said.
But somewhere between Cartersville and something overheating, the fire spread from the interior of the home.
Now the family is seeking the community’s help in getting back on their feet.
“We lost everything. It’s burnt. We could not save anything,” Ray said. “Anything anybody can do, we appreciate it.”
The Caldwells aren’t the only ones that lost a house during the past week. A house at 469 Norton Road in Summerville burned during the early morning hours Tuesday.
By the time someone spotted the 816 square-foot house burning, it was too late. Chief Lathem said once the fire truck arrived, the house had burned to the ground.
The home belongs to Lirissa Deberry, Inc., of Summerville.
“No one was living there at the time. It was pretty rundown,” the chief said about the 77-year-old house.
While two homes recently burned during a narrow time span, Chief Lathem said the number of calls his department answered this year declined.
“We answered 814 calls last year,” he said. “That is about a 100 down from what we normally have.”
Out of the 814 calls, only a fraction are home fires. The majority of the calls are wrecks (175 calls), medical assistance (167 calls), car fires (17), false alarms (40 calls), fallen tree (24 calls) etc.