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Photo/Angela Reinhardt Jasper Fire Marshal Greg Chapman, left, and Assistant Fire Chief Ian Norton survey the Oakmont Drive home that was destroyed in a morning fire.

Two die in tragic house fire

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A house fire took the lives of two Jasper residents this week, with the Georgia State Fire Marshal now investigating the case. 

The incident occurred Monday morning, May 13. At approximately 7:47 a.m. the Jasper Fire Department was dispatched to a residence off Oakmont Drive for a structure fire with entrapment. Heavy black smoke was coming from the building when first responders arrived less than three minutes after the call. 

Emergency crews attempted to rescue the victims, but they had already succumbed to the fire, according to a press release from Jasper Fire Chief John Sherrer. The fire had progressed through the house by the time firefighters arrived on the scene. 

The Jasper Fire Department is not releasing the names of victims at this time, but neighbors say the home was inhabited by a mother, some of her adult children, and others, possibly a girlfriend of one of her sons and a small child.

The front yard of the home was scattered with items including children’s toys and a playset. 

One of the mother’s children is a client at the Burnt Mountain Center, a facility for developmentally disabled adults. Burnt Mountain Center Director Debbie Rooker said the female client has been with them for around 15 years, and that the local M.A.T.S. public transportation bus had picked her up from the Oakmont Road home just before the fire started that morning to bring her to the center. 

“It’s just terrible,” Rooker said. “We’re waiting to hear what happened like everyone, but I know that her mother and grandmother are okay. The mother is very sweet and takes care of [our client]. What an awful situation.”

Rooker said they dropped the client off with her brother at the end of that Monday. The brother told Rooker the family is getting in touch with their insurance company and that the Red Cross was helping them find somewhere to stay.

A neighbor who lives just a few houses down told the Progress she left at 7:30 a.m. that morning to take her daughter to school and that the house was not on fire at the time. She knew the Burnt Mountain Center client and would regularly see her playing in the yard. 

“I’d always glance over there since she was outside so much, so I just naturally glanced over that morning at the house and it was fine when we left,” the neighbor said. 

By the time she returned, emergency vehicles were already on the way. One neighbor told Fox 5 they heard a loud boom and that within 20 minutes the house was fully engulfed. 

Jasper’s Fire Marshal Greg Chapman was on scene Tuesday, May 14 with someone from the state fire marshal’s office. 

“We’re about to go in and start going through rooms,” he said. “We could know something by this afternoon.” 

“On behalf of the Jasper Fire Department and the City of Jasper, we would like to offer our condolence to the family of the victims,” Fire Chief Sherrer said. 

The Jasper Fire Department also thanked the Jasper Police Department, Pickens County Fire & Rescue, and the Bethany-Salem Volunteer Fire Department who responded to the call. 

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