Residents review impact of fire
ACWORTH-After a devastating fire swept across the backyards of several Acworth town homes in southwest Cherokee County, some residents left and some stayed behind to rebuild from the wreckage.
About 18 of the units were damaged in the fire, melting the siding, burning the grass, and destroying most of the surrounding landscape. Although no one was injured in the blaze, the fire caused several hundred thousands of dollars, according to local fire investigators.
The fire, which started around 2:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 10, was put out shortly after by the Cherokee County Fire and Emergency Services. They were dispatched to the Ridge Mill neighborhood around 3 p.m., which is located off Highway 92 behind the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office’s Oak Grove Precinct and Fire Station No. 19.
The fire was initially started by two boys ages 11 and 12, respectively, who live in the neighborhood. They were in their backyard playing with a lighter, charcoal lighter fluid, and a Gatorade bottle. After a few minutes the fire started to burn out of control, and the boys were unable to extinguish the blaze in time to stop it from running into other neighbors yards.
“It went up faster than anything I’ve ever seen, most of the grass was dead and dry and it just all burnt up so quickly,” said Audrey Buttermore, a resident of Ridge Mill for over two years.
The two children who started the fire confessed to authorities after the fire was extinguished.
They have been charged with reckless conduct and turned back over to their parents, according to the Cherokee fire spokesperson, Tim Cavender.
“It’s a good thing they told someone about it or it could have been much worse,” said Ms. Buttermore. “Hopefully other kids in the area will learn from this and not recklessly play with fire.
Spokesperson Tim Cavender said the boys were using a lighter and charcoal lighter fluid and were lucky no one was injured. The fire department spokesperson noted fires like these rarely happen around here, and does not remember the last time one of this kind happened, but he does recall it was not as bad as this one.
The fire burned the vinyl siding off several of the homes and caused extensive smoke damage to others. It left either burnt or melted siding, smoke damage, or damage to the landscaping.
Some homes had the vinyl siding of the homes burnt so badly they went to stay other places for a few weeks until repairs could be made. The smoke in the area also caused several residents to relocate for the weekend until it cleared.
“It sort of made me a little more aware just how fast these things can happen. One minute everything was fine and the next the whole back yard is up in flames and my neighbors are freaking out,” said Ms. Buttermore.
Two months after the fire, all residents who had been displaced have returned to their homes. The reconstruction process for removing the burnt siding and replacing it has already began. Several of the houses that had to be covered with tarp are already receiving new siding, and almost all the grass has grown back.
“We’ve watched them take down all this burnt up and melted siding down and put more back up pretty quickly,” said local resident Audrey Buttermore. “Only a few houses that faced some of the worse damage are still being worked on. And the grass looks nicer than it did before, so it’s not all bad.”