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Afternoon fire completely destroys home of local family

It's the irreplaceable mementos that Glenn Wheeler regrets losing. The rest can be replaced, he said.

Fire destroyed Mr. Wheeler's Moose Club Road home last Wednesday afternoon and everything in it. But at least, he said, no one was inside.

"I'm glad it happened in the daytime, not at night," Mr. Wheeler said as McDuffie County firefighters sprayed precautionary blasts of water on the charred, smoking remains of his home.

Firefighters were dispatched at 2:16 p.m. last Wednesday and remained on the scene until 6 p.m., said McDuffie County Assistant Fire Chief Stephen Sewell. Three engine companies, a service company, as well as EMS, responded.

Asst. Chief Sewell said the fire caused "extensive damage" to the house.

The blaze, he added, began at the rear portion of the house, probably from a chemical reaction of some combustible painting material stored underneath the kitchen.

Mr. Wheeler, who is the brother of former Thomson standout and University of Georgia linebacker Danny Verdun Wheeler, said he and his family will be staying at his parents' house until he can move into one of his rental properties around town.

"Some things you just can't replace, like all of Danny's autographed stuff," he said. "Of course I've got all the football stuff from Georgia since Danny's been there, and all. It got burned up."

Also, pictures of Mr. Wheeler and his wife - taken back when they started dating in junior high - were lost in the fire. The ongoing sale of old yearbooks at Thomson high provides a little hope for recovering some of the lost keepsakes.

But the support from the community as well as his insurance company has been overwhelming, he said. Many of the customers at his wife's beauty salon have brought supplies for the family over the past week.

"Everybody's calling, wanting to know what can they do," said Mr. Wheeler, who was thankful for the support and prayers he's already received.

He said he was also appreciative of the offer his football star brother made to him. Mr. Verdun Wheeler asked him to come to the Georgia game on Saturday to get his mind off of losing the house, but with so much needing to be done, he had to decline.

The fire has given the Wheeler family a totally new outlook on personal tragedies of late.

"You feel sorry for anybody when it happens, but until that happens to you, it's a whole different feeling," Mr. Wheeler said. "Really, to sit back and see everything you've got just go away, you know, things that you can't replace, that's the feeling I had in my stomach the other day. ...I didn't know what butterflies in my stomach meant. I knew after that day though."

Anyone wanting to donate to help the family can drop items off at Pam's Beauty Salon, located at 826 Deans Avenue, or send them to Glenn Wheeler, P.O. Box 1457 in Thomson.

Web posted on Thursday, September 28, 2006

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