Fire department offers essential aid to Towns residents

Community, News

HIAWASSEE, Ga – Fire Chief Harold Copeland took a moment to inform the public that the fire department is available to any essential aid during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Not only is your fire department here for your med calls and fire emergencies, at a time like this during a pandemic, we’re here for your special needs as well,” said Copeland.

Stations are manned Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Copeland also gave out several numbers for citizens to call to reach the fire department if they need assistance. On the weekends and at night, people can call Station One at 706.896.2090 or call Copeland’s cell phone at 706.994.4934.

Copeland monitors the Station One voicemail and will get in touch with anyone who needs assistance. This applies to the gathering of any essentials for those in the community who can’t get out, such as groceries, prescriptions, or any type of aid. The department’s also delivering Meals on Wheels to the public.

Copeland became emotional when speaking about an individual who hadn’t eaten due to the inability to leave their home.

“If you’re home right now and you haven’t eaten today, call me. We’ll go through the drive-thru for you,” Copeland expressed. “We’re coming that’s what we do, that’s what everybody in this room does.”

The fire department will ask some COVID-19 screening questions in order to follow CDC guidelines. Those who respond to calls for meals, groceries, or medicine will place the goods on porches, carports, or vehicles.

“We’re here for you. The fire department’s here for you. The EMS is here for you. The same way y’all have been here for us over the years as a community whether it’s through your taxes or donations you’ve given,” stated Copeland.

“We want to take care of our citizens anyway we possibly can,” said Sole Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw. “Thank you all for all that you’re doing we appreciate it very much and better days are just around the corner. We’re getting there.”

To find out more about COVID-19 testing at the Towns County Health Department, click here.

Head-on crash closes U.S. Route 76 in Young Harris

Young Harris accident

YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. – A two-vehicle accident occurred shortly after 1 pm. Monday, March 9, on U.S. Route 76 in the vicinity of Brasstown Valley Resort near Equani Spa. According to Towns County Fire Chief Harold Copeland, two victims from the head-on collision were airlifted to Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville; one victim from the scene of the crash and the second victim from the Towns County Fire Station 2 landing zone in Young Harris.

Each vehicle involved in the collision contained a single occupant. Both victims were listed in serious condition.

As of 4 pm, traffic on Highway 76 was closed to motorists as Georgia State Patrol investigated the accident and a reenactment scene was staged.

UPDATE: According to Towns County 911, Highway 76 reopened to traffic at 4:15 pm.

The March 9 crash marks the fourth accident to occur in Towns County since Feb. 28.


UPDATED: Overnight fire destroys multiple homes in RV park

Hiawasseee fire

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – An overnight fire destroyed three camper homes in the Enchanted Valley RV Resort, Saturday, Feb. 2. Towns County Fire and Rescue were dispatched to the scene at approximately midnight.

No injuries were reported.

Enchanted Valley RV Resort

Enchanted Valley RV Resort

“The firefighters sure did do a great job at saving the other campers, especially under those really windy conditions. Great job,” Erica Roach wrote Saturday morning on social media. “The fire destroyed three campers but those three were affected before the fire department got in.”

Enchanted Valley RV Resort is located off of State Route 75 South, the highway leading to Helen, GA.

FYN is awaiting further information from Towns County Fire Chief Harold Copeland at this time. An update will be provided as details emerge.

UPDATED: Towns County Fire Chief Harold Copeland stated Saturday afternoon that the overnight fire originated in a middle trailer, igniting the units on each side of the camper of origin. A fourth RV sustained minimal damage.

A male resident was reported asleep at the time that the fire began, exiting the residence unscathed. Copeland said that the fire was ruled accidental. “The firefighters did a tremendous job. They performed a quick knockdown, working the hot spots to avoid rekindling, and the fire was contained,” Copeland told FYN, adding that windy conditions contributed to the spread of the blaze.

Towns County Fire & Rescue Incident Report

Activity Report, News
Chief Harold Copeland
Towns County Fire Rescue

Weekly Report

10/16/19 -10/22/19




4 Medical Calls

2 Cancelled En Route

1 Motor Vehicle Accident



5 Medical Calls

2 Motor Vehicle Accidents

2 Cancelled En Route

1 Structure Fire

1 Public Assist

1 Landing Zone



3 Medical Calls

3 Assist Other

1 Motor Vehicle Accident

1 Cancelled En Route



1 Structure Fire

2 Medical Calls

3 Cancelled En Route

1 Assist Other



6 Medical Calls

4 Cancelled En Route



4 Medical Calls

3 Cancelled En Route

1 False Fire Alarm

1 Landing Zone



5 Medical Calls

2 Cancelled En Route

1 False Call

1 Landing Zone



Feature Image: Towns County Fire Chief Harold Copeland

Chimney fire sparks safety reminder for colder months

Towns County Fire Rescue

YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. – Towns County Fire and Rescue responded to a chimney fire on Thursday, Oct. 17. on Cherokee Trail in Young Harris, and the incident should serve as a precaution when lighting the first indoor fires of the season.

“The incident was a chimney collapse,” Towns County Fire Chief Harold Copeland told FYN. “It began as a chimney fire and extended to the attic. Crews entered, removed sheet rock, and extinguished the fire. Firefighters performed excellent, quick work to save the home.” No injuries were reported as a result of the incident.

Experts warn that chimney fires can burn explosively – loud and dramatic enough to be detected by neighbors or passersby. Flames or dense smoke may shoot from the top of the chimney. Homeowners report being startled by a low rumbling sound, similar to that of a freight train or a low flying airplane. 

Indications of a chimney fire have been described as creating loud, cracking and popping noises, a high level of dense smoke, and an intense, hot smell.

chimney fire

Interior view of the chimney fire damage.

Damage resulting from chimney fires is largely due to flames in the lower chimney migrating upward to crack, warp, melt, or otherwise negatively affect the masonry or metal chimney walls. In severe cases, chimney fires can destroy houses and put lives at risk. These tragedies are often preventable: Failure to regularly inspect, repair, and clean a chimney can cause it to malfunction or collect dangerous build-up.

On a linear note, as Daylight Saving Time reaches its end, Darrell Barrett of Barrett & Associates Agency, Inc. and the Georgia Arson Control Board asked to remind the citizens of Towns County that when they change their clocks in November, they can also use the opportunity to change the batteries in their smoke detectors.

“The annual change in time is a good opportunity to make sure your smoke detector has fresh batteries and is functioning properly,” Barrett said. The insurance agent further recommends that Towns County citizens change the batteries in flashlights, weather radios, and other safety devices. Barrett also suggests that the time change be used as a reminder to replace batteries in all other safety equipment used for household emergencies.

 Daylight Saving Time ends on Sunday, November 3, at 2 a.m.  The time will fall back one hour.

Towns County Fire & Rescue respond to early morning fire


HIAWASSEE, Ga. – A structure fire occurred during the early morning hours of Monday, Oct. 14, at a residence off Bell Gap Road, north of Hiawassee. The call was dispatched to Towns County firefighters at approximately 3:30 a.m.

According to Towns County Fire and Rescue, responding units reported the fire as “fully involved” and spreading toward the wood line. Blue Ridge Mountain Electric Membership Corporation (BRMEMC) was contacted, notifying the fire department that there was no electricity connected to the residence. Apparatus from Towns County Fire and Rescue Station 1 and Station 4 responded in cooperation with mutual aid from Clay County Fire Department.

Towns County Fire Chief Harold Copeland stated that the residence was unoccupied at the time of the blaze with no injuries reported. The incident is currently under investigation.

Image by Towns County Fire and Rescue

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9/11 Memorial Service to be held on Hiawassee Square


HIAWASSEE, Ga. – It has been nearly eighteen years since the infamous day that will eternally live in American minds –  Sept. 11, 2001. Towns County, along with the City of Hiawassee, plans to honor the terrorist attack victims on Patriot Day. Towns County Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw, Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales, and Towns County Fire Chief Harold Copeland met Aug. 29 to finalize the details of a Wednesday, Sept. 11 public memorial. Hiawassee Town Square will be the site of the gathering, beginning at 9:45 a.m.

Mayor Ordiales will serve as the master of ceremonies, with Young Harris Mayor Andrea Gibby welcoming guests. Presentation of the Colors will be issued by North Georgia National Guard. Pastors Danny Byers, Wade Lott, and Donnie Jarrard will offer prayers and words of remembrance in honor of the lives lost. Chief Copeland is scheduled to speak on the meaning of 9/11, prior to ringing a bell to symbolize the fallen. Summer Rahn will sing the National Anthem. The program will end with “God Bless America.”

Chief Harold Copeland

Towns County Fire Chief Harold Copeland

Commissioner Bradshaw said that the idea to hold the memorial ceremony was presented by part-time Towns County resident Bob Fair. “I wish it was something that we had thought to do sooner,” Bradshaw said. Bradshaw added plans to make the service an annual event.

A total of 2,996 people were killed in the 9/11 attacks, including the 19 terrorist hijackers aboard the four airplanes. Citizens of 78 countries died in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania. At the World Trade Center, 2,763 died after the two planes slammed into the twin towers. That figure includes 343 firefighters and paramedics, 23 New York City police officers, and 37 Port Authority police officers who were struggling to complete an evacuation of the buildings and save the office workers trapped on higher floors.

At the Pentagon, 189 people were killed, including 64 on American Airlines Flight 77, the airliner that struck the building. On Flight 93, 44 people died when the plane crash-landed in Pennsylvania.

State Senators Wilkinson and Gooch address Towns County Republican Party

News, Politics

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Georgia State Senators John Wilkinson and Steve Gooch were invited to address the Towns County Republican Party Thursday, Aug. 15, at Daniel’s Steakhouse in Hiawassee. The evening began with acoustic entertainment by student Summer Rahn, who later led the National Anthem. followed by a well-received rendition of two classic county songs. Student Gabe Moody delivered a powerful speech on the importance of gratefulness in America, speaking favorably toward President Donald Trump and the sacrifice of the U.S. military. Chrissy Figg informed the community on the benefits of the local 4-H extension program, and student Samatha Church proudly introduced the state senators.

Towns County GOP

(L-R) Speakers Senator John Wilkinson, Samantha Church, Senator Steve Gooch, Chrissy Figg, Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw, and Gabe Moody

Senator Steve Gooch was the initial keynote speaker, touching on numerous topics of interest, including strong support for the enacted “heartbeat bill” which prohibits abortion in Georgia once a heartbeat is detected in the womb, the need for broadband internet options, the ongoing process of medical marijuana cultivation, and the upcoming change in voting machine procedures. Senator Gooch was elected to the Georgia State Senate in 2010. Gooch is a Republican representing the 51st District, which includes Fannin, Union, Gilmer, Lumpkin, White, Dawson and parts of Pickens and Forsyth counties. Gooch was elected as the Majority Whip of the Senate Majority Caucus in 2014. The senator spoke on the importance of voting in upcoming elections in order to keep Republicans in office, not only on a national level, but state and local as well. Gooch warned that the State House could lose its majority if Republicans fail to vote. “If the Democrats take the House, game over,” Gooch said.

Senator Steve Gooch

State Senator Steve Gooch

Senator John Wilkinson mirrored Gooch’s position on the heartbeat bill, medical marijuana, and support for voter turnout at the polls. Wilkinson spoke with pride on the state’s decision to award individual Georgia schools with $30,000 funding for upgraded security, and favorably of Georgia’s $2.5 billion reserve and Triple A bond rating. Senator Wilkinson, a Republican from Toccoa, was first elected to the State Senate for Georgia’s 50th District during a special election in 2011 and has been reelected to serve in three subsequent elections. Senator Wilkinson represents Banks, Franklin, Habersham, Rabun, Towns, Stephens and portions of Hall and Jackson counties.

Ninth District Republican Chairwoman Rebecca Yardley additionally stressed the importance of voting in local elections, stating that 2018 gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams has specifically targeted the highly-conservative Ninth District in an attempt to flip it from a Republican to Democratic hold.

Towns County Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw delivered the invocation at the beginning of the program, speaking briefly on the positive state of the county as the forum commenced. Towns County Republican Chairwoman Betsy Young led the meeting’s agenda. Hiawassee Councilwoman Anne Mitchell and Towns County Fire Chief-Coroner Harold Copeland attended the popular event.

Towns County Republican Party is scheduled to meet Thursday, Sept. 19, at 6 pm at the Towns County Civic Center. Meetings are open to the public.

Feature Image: State Senators Steve Gooch (left) and John Wilkinson speak with Towns County citizens.

Upcoming event:

Towns County GOP announces “Let Freedom Ring” art contest

USFS fines Towns County fire chief-coroner for out-of-season hog hunting

wild hog hunting

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – FetchYourNews (FYN) reported Friday, July 19, that the United States Forest Service (USFS) had launched an investigation into an incident which occurred Tuesday evening, July 16, during a FireWise Communities meeting at Towns County Fire and Rescue Station 6, off State Route 288, situated in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest. According to meeting attendees, which included federal employees, gunfire erupted outside of the county facility while the meeting was in progress, the result of Towns County Fire Chief-Coroner Harold Copeland’s decision to shoot a wild hog that had wandered nearby.

Federal investigators with the USFS visited the site of the shooting over the weekend, and determined with metal detectors that the shooting had occurred on federal property. Copeland was fined $330 for the violation. While there is no hunting season for feral hogs on private property, the wild hogs may only be taken on forest service land with proper weaponry during an open hunting season on other wildlife.

Copeland told FYN on Friday, prior to receiving the charge, that he believed that the incident had occurred on property belonging to Towns County Clerk of Court Cecil Dye, located adjacent to the federal jurisdiction. Dye confirmed that he had, in fact, given the fire chief-coroner permission to eliminate the “invasive hogs” on his land in the past.

FYN spoke with Copeland Monday, July 22, following the conclusion of the USFS investigation. “It wasn’t a good decision,” Copeland said. “But today is another day, and life goes on.” Dye, who visited the scene, estimated the distance of the shooting at approximately 75-feet from his property line. “I believe it was because there was a meeting going on at the time, that’s what caused the investigation,” Dye told FYN, sympathetic to Copeland’s plight. The court clerk added that his property is “overrun” with feral hogs, causing widespread damage to vegetation.

Copeland received an abundance of community support on social media, following the release of FYN’s initial report.

Related Archive


Towns County fire chief-coroner under investigation after killing wild hog

USFS enforcement

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – The United States Forest Service (USFS) informed FetchYourNews (FYN) Friday, July 19, that an active investigation has been launched due to an incident which occurred outside of a local Firewise Communities meeting Tuesday, July 16, involving a fatal encounter between a wild hog and Towns County Fire Chief-Coroner Harold Copeland.

Firewise Communities – a coalition which includes local, state, and federal fire managers – held its regular meeting Tuesday evening at Towns County Fire Station 6, located off State Route 288. The county fire station is situated on federal land within the boundaries of the Oconee-Chattahoochee National Forest.

According to individuals in attendance, gunfire erupted outside of the fire station as the meeting took place, the result of Fire Chief-Coroner Copeland’s decision to shoot a wild hog that had wandered toward an undisclosed area beside the facility. A member of Towns County Fire and Rescue stated that the hog’s carcass had been removed from the area and disposed of by the department at Copeland’s request.

FYN spoke with Copeland July 18, offering an opportunity to explain the situation. Copeland stated that Towns County Clerk of Court Cecil Dye had given the chief-coroner permission to shoot wild hogs on the court clerk’s property, an area which borders the federal land. “I killed it in the woods,” Copeland told FYN. “It was on Cecil Dye’s land.” Dye confirmed with FYN that he had, in fact, given Copeland permission to hunt “invasive hogs” on his property in the past.

While it is unknown if the dually appointed fire chief-elected coroner will be charged with a violation, hunting out-of-season on federal land and discharging a firearm within 150 yards of a residence, building, campsite, developed recreation site, or occupied area is illegal in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest.

UPDATED: Wild hogs may be taken on forest service land with archery equipment during archery deer season, with deer weapons during firearms deer season, with turkey weapons during turkey season, and with small game weapons during small game season. There are no restrictions on private property, however.

FYN will continue to follow developments, reporting updated information as it becomes available.

EMA Director Rickey Mathis retires after 42 years of service


HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Emotion ran high at the courthouse Tuesday, May 21, as Towns County bid farewell to Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director Rickey Mathis after 42 years of dedicated service. Towns County Sole Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw was noticeably saddened as he presented a commemorative plaque to the county’s first paramedic. Mathis also served as a coroner for Towns County.

Mathis was joined by Towns County EMA Deputy Director Brandon Walls, Towns County 911 Director Marty Roberts, and Towns County Fire Chief Harold Copeland as he humbly accepted the retirement honor, looked upon with pride by family and friends.

“Towns County owes him,” Commissioner Bradshaw said, describing Mathis as faithful and filled with integrity. “We’re very thankful for Rickey.”

Mathis said that he couldn’t have done the job he did without the men standing behind him as he accepted the distinguished plaque, referring to Walls, Roberts, and Copeland.



Wild hog sightings continue at Towns County campground

Wild hogs

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Visitors at Chatuge Woods Campground, a 30-acre county operated tract located on the banks of Lake Chatuge, have reported a wild hog frequenting the area, and Towns County Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw wants area newcomers to be aware of the presence of the invasive species.

Bradshaw explained that the nuisance notoriously increases during the summer months due to wild hogs venturing down mountain slopes to secure an available food source. “There’s always more than one, but we’ve only seen one so far,” the commissioner told FetchYourNews, referring to the recent campground sighting. Bradshaw reported that the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has installed a trap in the area to capture the creature, and it will be returned to the wild if the catch proves successful.

The swine sighting follows FYN’s recent reports of Towns County Fire Chief-Coroner Harold Copeland receiving a $330 fine from the United States Forest Service for shooting a wild hog on federal land. While there is no hunting season for wild hogs on private property, the animals can only be eliminated with proper weaponry during open hunting seasons for other wildlife on national land.

Copeland received overwhelmimg community support as a result of FYN’s initial coverage.

“Feral swine were first brought to the United States in the 1500s by early explorers and settlers as a source of food,” the United States Department of Agriculture states on its website. “Repeated introductions occurred thereafter. The geographic range of this destructive species is rapidly expanding and its populations are increasing across the nation.”

A conservative estimate of the cost of wild pig damage to agriculture and the environment in the United States currently stands at $1.5 billion annually.

Towns County residents can report issues created by the wild hogs to DNR at 706-379-2040.


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