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Neighbors aid firefighters in efforts to quench Friday fire in Happy Valley

Chris Duncan and Walter Kennedy did the neighborly thing last Friday afternoon when they spotted flames coming from a neighbor's home off the Wrens Highway.

"I ran from my house to try and help them," said Mr. Duncan. "That was the least I could do."

Mr. Kennedy echoed those sentiments.

"I helped firefighters pull hoses around when they got there. But by that time, the fire had just about caved in the entire roof," recalled Mr. Kennedy, who lives off Story Randall Road in the Happy Valley area of McDuffie County.

He was referring to the flames that had spread throughout the large brick home belonging to Chris and Lisa Williams, located at 4921 Wrens Highway. No one was home at the time.

Mr. Duncan's children, Jasmine Ramos, 18, a senior at Thomson High School, and her brother, Jordan, were preparing to go to work at Sonic in Thomson when Jasmine went running back inside her residence to inform family members of the fire.

"She came in and said the house next door is on fire," said Ms. Ramos' younger sister, Jenna Davis, 14, a freshman at Thomson-McDuffie County Junior High School. "We went running from the house, jumped a fence and saw our dad trying to put the fire out."

Mr. Duncan said as he was awaiting McDuffie County Fire/Rescue Services firefighters to arrive on the scene that he even attempted to bust out a side window. Intense heat from the flames, however, turned him back.

McDuffie County Fire/Rescue Services Assistant Chief Stephen Sewell said about 30 firefighters responded to the alarm that sounded about 4:50 p.m. Two fire engines, as well as two tanker trucks were used to battle the fire, which kept firefighters extremely busy for more than an hour.

Asst. Chief Sewell said the fire broke out in the dining room, which was located in the center portion of the home. The cause of the fire still is undetermined.

"I spent several hours there again on Monday, but we still haven't been able to determine a cause," Asst. Chief Sewell said.

The Williams' lost everything they owned. Persons wishing to help the family can call the Augusta Chapter of the American Red Cross at 706-724-8481.

Web posted on Thursday, January 22, 2009

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