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Huge house fire lights up St. Simons Island sky

By: EMILY STRANGER / The Brunswick News

June 14, 2007

 

This shot of a house ablaze at 103 Strachan Lane was taken Tuesday night from the St. Simons Island pier by John Eblen, a photographer visiting from Akron, Ohio. The flames, which destroyed the house, could be seen from Jekyll Island and the mainland.

(Photo by John Eblen/Special to The News)

Loss estimated at $1 million

A view from the residence next door shows what remains Wednesday of the burned-out house, owned by J. Mac and Beverly Mason.

(Photo by Bobby Haven/The Brunswick News)

As he walked through the ash littering his front courtyard, John Ellis shook his head in disbelief.

“I am a fortunate man,” he said Wednesday, picking black debris from a pot of flowers.

Tuesday night he watched in horror as Glynn County firefighters battled a blaze at a neighboring house on St. Simons Island and fought to protect his.

Wednesday morning, the Glynn County Fire Department launched an investigation into the fire that destroyed the house at 103 Strachan Lane, near the village.

Fire officials said the fire erupted at about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, causing an estimated $1 million in damages.

The home is owned by J. Mac and Beverly Mason, owners of J. Mac’s restaurant on St. Simons Island. The family wasn’t home when the fire started.

The house was destroyed, but firefighters were able to save Ellis’ home next door at 101 Strachan Lane.

Ellis said flames reached as high as four stories, and that heat from the blaze melted paint off the sides of his balcony walls. “I was scared to death,” he said. “I just knew my house was gone.

“The firemen did a magnificent job. They were so nice, and kept telling me it would be OK.”

Only a charred portico and blackened steps remained of the Mason’s three-story house.

Glynn County Fire Department personnel pour water on hot spots inside the burned-out remains of the house at 103 Strachan Lane Wednesday.

(Photo by Bobby Haven/The Brunswick News)

After containing the blaze, firefighters stayed on the scene Wednesday morning to extinguish hot spots.

“The roof collapsed in on the building, so there could have been a lot of hidden places you couldn’t see still burning,” said Al Thomas, Glynn County fire chief.

He estimated that more than 40 firefighters responded to the fire, including volunteer and off-duty personnel.

With five fire engines and two aerial trucks, firefighters attacked the monstrous inferno with water from all angles.

Their plan of attack worked. The fire didn’t spread and there were no injuries.

“We were up all night,” Thomas said. “It’s been a few years since we’ve seen a fire this big.”

John Eblen, a photographer from Akron, Ohio, was photographing his wife on the St. Simons Island pier when he heard sirens from fire engines.

When he turned around, Eblen said he saw smoke and watched as an orange reflection danced across the ocean waves.

With the click of a button and turn of a lens, he began snapping pictures.

“Before you even saw the fire, you saw the smoke,” he said. “I’ve never seen a fire like that before.”

 

  As published in the June 14, 2007, The Brunswick News

 

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