An Eatonton family is grateful everyone is safe after their new-to-them home caught fire Monday night. Eatonton Fire Department was called to the fire on Jenkins Drive around 10:50 p.m., and when they arrived, they saw flames burning outside the garage roof and heavy smoke throughout the house, said Eatonton Fire Chief Eugene Hubert.
The family had moved into the house several months ago and had been remodeling it, Hubert said.
“It’s amazing how perspectives can change in an instant,” homeowner Chandler Craine said on her social media post. “I have been so ready to get everything just right and complete in this new house. Now, all that matters is that the people I love are safe.”
Craine and her husband had just gone to bed and their children were already asleep when a neighbor called and told them their house was on fire, according to Hubert. Because the fire was around the door of the house that is in the garage, they all were able to escape out of the back door, unharmed.
“Within minutes, our new street was filled with brave and amazing firefighters, ambulance drivers, police and the kindest neighbors,” Craine said. “The outpouring of love from these new faces will never be forgotten. We are so blessed for the incredible emergency response teams in Eatonton.”
Twelve city firefighters and nine county firefighters were on scene to battle the blaze, and Hubert said “they did an excellent job.” He also praised the way the two departments worked together, and thanked the Putnam County Emergency Service and Eatonton Police Department for “having our backs and staying there in case we needed them.”
The fire started in a trash can that was outside the home, next to the exterior brick wall near the garage. Hubert described it as the plastic trash can on wheels that the city issues to residents. He said according to Eatonton/Putnam Fire Marshal Eric Reid and State Fire Marshal Investigator Mickey Hunt, something in the trash can became overheated in the closed trash can, ignited, and the flames spread up to the roof eaves.
“Andy Craine told us he had cleaned his grill with some paper towels and the paper towels were saturated with oil, so that must be what did it,” Hubert said. “Although really, you never know what’s in a trash can that can catch on fire. But the fire marshal thinks that possibly could’ve been what started it.”
The fire in the two-story brick house was extinguished quickly with little water damage, and can be repaired, according to Hubert, who said the main damage was from smoke. Mrs. Craine is an elementary school teacher at Gatewood, and Mr. Craine is a landscaper.
“It’s sad because they had just almost finished remodeling the house, and now they will have to again,” Hubert said. “But we’re so glad the neighbor saw it and let them know. They had just exchanged phone numbers, which is a good thing.”