Early Thursday morning, firefighters found a Summerville man dead in his bathtub filled with water during a house fire. Firefighters were called to the home on 4th Street shortly after 2 Thursday morning.
Two other men were home when the fire started, they made it out alive. Fire investigators said the home is a complete loss.
Family members said lived with no central heating. When they heard about the cold front moving in, they did everything they could to stay warm.
In the middle of their front yard, the two survivors and their families packed up their belongings. “It was just a case of time, an accident looking to happen, should not have happened,” said Lori Yonts, a mother of one of the survivors.
Three men were inside the home when the fire started. The two living downstairs were able to escape, but the man neighbors knew as Charlie never made it out. “Very nice guy. I feel sorry they lost everything but only God knows why,” said Trina Johnson, the next door neighbor.
Lori Yonts received a phone call that her son's home was on fire. She said the men were living without heat and were doing anything to stay warm, including starting their own fires around the home. “Clothing piled up. All their collections piled. One little flame and the whole place just goes,” said Yonts.
Charlie is the 9th person to die in a fire in Chattooga County this year. “Time for this year to get on out and start with 2017 and hopefully it will be a lot smoother year,” said the Summerville Fire Chief Robbie Lathem.
Recently, he applied for the Home Depot Community Grant and won $4,000 for the city. The fire department is taking all that money and putting it towards building a strong fire protection program for the county. “Purchase smoke detectors, Carbon Monoxide detectors and were going to get a couple of took kits and ladders for installation.”He said the house had no smoke alarms, and said it could be a matter of life or death. “That smoke detector going off could be enough to wake you up to give you that time to get out of the house,” said Chief Lathem.
He wants to put a smoke detector in every home. Hoping something like this, never happens again. “I wouldn't be a very rational person had that been him dead. I am hoping Charlie meant enough to somebody that this doesn't get left or just forgotten about,” said Yonts.
The Georgia State Fire Marshal is still investigating the cause of the fire. The Summerville Fire Chief said if you need a smoke alarm, contact him at (706) 859-0914 and he will install it for free.