HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Sunday afternoon’s bright, blue sky and unseasonably warm weather seemed to contradict the tragedy that occurred just 15-hours before in the peaceful village of Enchanted Valley RV Resort. FYN arrived at the park to take photographs of the aftermath of a structure fire that shamelessly destroyed three homes during the midnight hour of Feb. 2, unprepared to come face-to-face with the fire’s heartbroken victim.
Mike Wages, an older gentleman who relocated to Towns County from the Gwinnett-area in 2002, sat alone in his pick-up truck, staring at what remained of his full-time home as he awaited the arrival of the American Red Cross. As Wages fought tears from his kind, blue eyes, the displaced homeowner offered details on the dreadful night before.
“I was asleep, had fallen asleep watching Westerns, and woke up around midnight to the smell of smoke. I was having trouble breathing…I was able to get out, but I lost everything I had. I have never felt such pain…This is all I have,” Wages said, pointing to a small heap of crumpled clothes beside him in the passenger seat.
Wages quickly regained his composure and turned the conversation to the first responders who battled the blaze. “I want the firefighters and paramedics to know how thankful I am. They did a wonderful job. It could have been so much worse.”
Several of Wages’ neighbors sat on a concrete bench in front of the charred structures, despondently gazing at what little remained, and likewise requested that FYN publicly extend their gratitude for Towns County Fire and Rescue’s skilled response. Firefighters arrived shortly after midnight to find the three homes engulfed in flames, quickly acting to extinguish the blaze and preventing wider spread damage to the tightly-quartered mobile homes.
Windy conditions lent to the escalation of the fire, Towns County Fire Chief Harold Copeland told FYN earlier in the day. “The firefighters did a tremendous job,” Copeland said. “They performed a quick knockdown, working the hot spots to avoid rekindling, and the fire was contained.” The fire was ruled accidental.
Wages said that he, fortunately, holds homeowner’s insurance and plans to rebuild.
Feature Image: What remains of Wages’ home.