Area firefighters pull together to battle house fire in Sagee Woods

By Brian O’Shea, Plateau Daily News

Eight area fire departments responded to a house fire on Saturday afternoon on the 200 block of Sagee Woods Drive that took days to fully extinguish.

Fire crews were consistently operating multiple hoses to keep pace with a fast-moving fire in Sagee Woods.

Firefighters responded from departments throughout the area including Highlands Fire & Rescue, Cashiers/Glenville, Sky Valley-Scaly Mountain, Cullasaja Gorge, Rabun County Station 8, Macon County Squad 4, Lake Toxaway, and Rosman.

Pictured below are firefighters in action battling a house fire in Sagee Woods on Feb. 4.


HFR had the lead on the call and Assistant Chief Robbie Forrester said there were no injuries and the residents were able to exit the home safely, but there were some challenges putting out the blaze in an estimated 7,000 square foot structure.

The fire had breached the roof of the 7,000 square foot home within the first hour.

“It’s a big house with a lot of rooms, so the fire was kind of chopped up all over,” he said. “Then you have fire in the crawlspace and the attic, so fire above and below you. When that collapses, everything in the middle gets pancaked. So, you can’t really get in there and dig.”

CGFD Chief Randy Dillard said it took some time to locate all the hotspots throughout the home.

“The size and all the wood make for a very hot fast-moving fire,” said Dillard. “All of our crews stayed there a long time but could not find all the fire in the walls and it got dangerous real fast.”

CGFD Firefighter Noah Pressler mans a hose aimed at the front of the house doing what he can to slow the fire down before crews breach the structure.

Dillard added that it was a huge benefit having the support of other departments.

“Getting a lot of help on a fire this size is very important,” he said. “It takes a lot of people to run that many trucks and pull hose.”

Cullasaja Gorge firefighters attack the blaze at another entry point into the home.

Sagee Woods Drive in not an easy place to park a fire engine, and even tougher to park 10 of them because the road is very narrow and it’s a tight squeeze.

It would be difficult to park one firetruck on Sagee Woods Drive. Crews had at least 10 trucks lined up keeping firefighters supplied with water and equipment.

Hoses were running from an assortment of trucks along the road to feed water to firefighters battling the blaze on the property.

The fire was fully extinguished by Monday afternoon and Forrester said the cause is unknown and is under investigation by the Jackson County Fire Marshal.

It wasn’t as simple hooking up to a hydrant on Sagee Woods Drive. HFR Firefighter of the Year Gary Ammons mans the complex system of hoses making sure the water keeps coming.

HFR Chief Ryan Gearhart said assistance from other departments was crucial.

“We appreciate all our mutual aid, to everyone that responded a huge thank you,” he said.

HFR and HPD were on site the following day still pouring water on the home.

The fire was officially extinguished by Monday afternoon.

HFR Roger Lee Wilson helps operate a truck mounted hose. Wilson is also the recent winner of HFR’s first inaugural ‘Roger L. Wilson Perfect Attendance Award.

Gearhart also thanked a good Samaritan who paid for dinner on Saturday night.

The home’s roof quickly caved in as the fire spread.

“We ordered 30 burgers from Mountain Fresh and when I got there to pick them up, someone had already paid for them,” he said. “We don’t know who that was, but it was really kind.”

HFR Assistant Chief Robbie Forrester manning a truck mounted hose spraying the roof of the home.

CGFD chats with firefighters as crews prepare to breach the structure.

Cullasaja Gorge firefighter works on breaching a window on the second floor of the home and smoke pours out from above.

Things can get tricky at the top of a 20-foot ladder.

The property seemed in consistent motion as crews did their best to battle the blaze for hours on end.

Keeping a hose on the front door while other crews smash windows to get some water inside.

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