Fire on Old Hammett Road started from debris pile

Published 8:22 pm Tuesday, March 26, 2019

A large fire on Old Hammett Road in Hogansville burned 19 acres of land and a shed before being controlled and put out Monday.

The Troup County Fire Department responded to the fire at 11:05 a.m. Monday, and it wasn’t contained until 2:44 p.m., according to Chief Roy Cadenhead. The fire wasn’t out until much later in the evening, with Monday’s rain expected to help add the finishing knockout.

The fire was not called in by anyone, although Cadenhead estimated it had been going for up to two days. Jeff Mansour, chief ranger for the Georgia Forestry Commission in Meriwether County, estimated the fire had started the night before.

The fire was spotted by a Georgia Forestry Commission plane on a recon mission. The plane was involved in helping put out a large brush fire near Lincoln Street in Hogansville — about six miles away. That fire started Sunday evening and burned until around noon Monday and needed over 2,500 gallons of water to be completely put out. That fire is still under investigation, according to the fire department and Georgia Forestry Commission. The Old Hammett Road fire burned down a 30-foot-by-40-foot shed and got near a house at 279 Old Hammett Road, which is where the fire started. Mansour said the fire started from a debris pile someone had been burning behind the house.

“Our best estimation is that it was a debris fire,” Mansour said. “It looked like somebody had been at abandoned house or old house there … Whoever was there had a trash pile they were burning, so they either didn’t extinguish it probably or when the winds got up it crept out of the area it was in.”

Mansour estimated the fire was 30 to 40 feet behind the house.

“It’s a wonder it didn’t burn the house down,” Cadenhead said. “We had power lines on the ground, and it burned all the way to the edge.”

Unlike the Lincoln Street fire, helicopters and water drops weren’t used in the Old Hammett Road fire. Instead, Mansour said the Georgia Forestry Commission used a bulldozer to put dirt lines around the fire.

Cadenhead said it appears nobody lived in the house, but there were three dogs inside that were removed by the Troup County Marshal’s Office. There were also several vehicles on the property, and Mansour said the fire burned underneath and around them.   

Cadenhead said the low humidity this weekend made it a dangerous time for fires. All of central and north Georgia was under a high fire danger warning this past weekend, according to the National Weather Service in Peachtree City.

He said anyone burning needs to be extremely careful. Even after Monday’s rain, he said it won’t be long before it dries out again.

“Really make sure the fire is out when you say it’s going to be out,” Cadenhead said.

Mansour said the Old Hammett Road fire was an illegal fire, since it was being used to burn manmade material, including alcohol beverage containers. He said if the person who started the fire was caught, they could receive an unlawful burn notice and suppression fee, where they could be expected to foot the cost of putting the fire out.

Mansour said it’s important to get a permit before burning yard debris, and he said a fire should be cool to the touch when it’s completely out.

“Either one could’ve turned into a bad situation under different circumstances,” Mansour said. “Thankfully with the aid of the airplane we were able to catch the one on Old Hammett Road.”