Winder resident Mike Johnson, whose family of five lost all of their belongings in a house fire last Sunday, said this week he thanks the heroes who are the Barrow County fire fighters from the bottom of his heart.
“(They) went inside of the house and that roof could have almost collapsed on them,” said Johnson on a phone interview from the Lilburn Police Department where he works. “They were just heroes trying to go in there. I just want to thank them from the bottom of my heart.”
Firefighters initially weren’t sure if anyone was inside the Laythan Court home as it burned on Aug. 16, although luckily, the family wasn’t there. Johnson was at work, his wife, Shari, was in Commerce with friends, and their three children, ages 17, 15 and 11, were in school.
A neighbor alerted the fire department after he saw smoke rising from the house. According to Barrow County Emergency Services spokesman Lt. Scott Dakin, Johnson’s neighbor was driving on Mulberry Road when he spotted the smoke. Then, he called Johnson at work.
“The first thing that came inside my mind is that my kids just started school,” said Johnson. “Ten minutes later, I just raced home to check the status on my dogs.”
By that time, the house was fully engulfed in flames. All firefighters were able to salvage were the vehicles parked in the garage of the Johnson’s home, which itself was completely destroyed.
“It was quite an experience and all the police and fire activity that was going on,” said Johnson. “Someone came and got the kids from school and we met with Red Cross and the fire investigators. The Red Cross helped us out immediately that day. They were right there on the scene as the fire was still burning.”
The source of the fire is still unknown, although there is indication that it could possibly be wiring on the back-end of the house.
There are plans to move into another Winder home in the Treemont subdivision next week.
“We’re planning on rebuilding and putting us back together,” said Johnson. The task has been incredible.”
Johnson, who has made Barrow County his home since 2001, said he and his family are amazed at the outpouring of support from the community, his neighbors and from the school system.
“The school system has been incredible,” said Johnson. “I’ve been contacted by so many people on the BOE in Barrow and they have offered assistance, tutoring and school supplies.”
This week, the family is staying in a hotel, picking up the pieces, happily together – thankful they are all OK.
“We’ve concentrated on that,” said Johnson. “The shock wore off and we are OK and we will stay resilient as a family to get through this.”
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