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2 homes destroyed, separate fires

By Beth Alston

AMERICUS — Local and area firefighters faced an unusual challenge Monday morning as two separate fires, on opposite ends of Sumter County, destroyed two homes.
Sumter County Fire & Rescue Chief John Ekaitis talked with the Times-Recorder about the fires. The first was reported at 9:34 a.m. when they were summoned to a structure fire on Young’s Mill Road in northwest rural Sumter County. The fire had been reported by a passer-by. Upon arrival, five minutes later, the chief said, the house, a single-family residence, was 65 percent involved in fire. He said that 22 firefighters were on scene from his department, along with mutual aid provided from fire departments in Webster, Marion and Lee counties.
Ekaitis said the house was located on a hill, and fire personnel worked in 10 to 15 mph winds to get the fire under control, which took about an hour. The house was a total loss, he said.
While they were fighting that fire, another call came in at 10:04 a.m. for a structure fire on Forest Park Road in southeastern rural Sumter County. Everyone in the house had been evacuated. Ekaitis said fire personnel arrived on the scene about nine minutes later and found another house showing “heavy fire.” Thirteen firefighters from Sumter County as well as others providing mutual aid from Americus Fire & Emergency Services, and Lee and Webster counties, put out the fire in about 30 minutes. That house, too, was a total loss.
Ekaitis said the Young’s Mill Road fire is still under investigation and the cause has not yet been determined. The Forest Park Road fire was caused by cooking, possibly, he said.
“Everybody did an outstanding job on both fires,” Ekaitis said. “The resources required responded quickly, and we’re very thankful for the assistance of other fire departments. When you have two fires at opposite ends of the county, you utilize all your resources to mitigate the situations.”