An 17-year-old man with special needs was killed Friday afternoon after getting trapped in his burning Lawrenceville home, his family told Channel 2 Action News.
Firefighters were dispatched to a home in the 500 block of Rockmill Court about 1:30 p.m., Gwinnett County fire spokesman Donald Strother said. They arrived to find two houses on fire.
One man was pulled from his home and rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead, Strother said. His name has not been released.
Channel 2 reported the man was in his basement when the fire began and was unable to escape the blaze. Firefighters pulled him out of a basement window shortly before the home collapsed, Gwinnett fire Capt. Tommy Rutledge said at the scene.
Eight children and three adults were able to make it out safely, Strother said. They could be seen grieving outside the burned down split-level home after receiving the news that their relative didn’t survive the fire.
The victim’s sister told the news station she was able to grab four small children, the youngest of whom was 6 months old, and get them out of the house. However, she wasn’t able to save her brother, who had autism.
“First I see smoke — black smoke coming from the window, and as soon as I got out from my kids’ room to the hallway, I hear explosions everywhere all over the house,” the woman, who asked Channel 2 not to be identified, said. “We couldn’t save him. There was fire everywhere.”
A man tells me his 18-year-old special needs brother was killed in this house fire in Gwinnett County today. He also says they smelled gas this morning. A gas worker came out to the home and left within hours of this fire starting. The latest on the investigation at 11 pic.twitter.com/gl8yZg2YfA
The family told the news station that an Atlanta Gas Light employee inspected the home earlier Friday after someone in the house smelled gas. The natural gas company sent Channel 2 a statement that said, in part:
“We were notified of a fire at ... Rockmill Court in Lawrenceville. We are assisting the local authorities with their investigation. We can confirm an Atlanta Gas Light employee was at the home earlier in the day and left the home in a safe condition.”
The American Red Cross will provide the family with temporary assistance, authorities said.
The heat from the blaze was so intense it melted the bumpers off several cars parked outside the burning homes, Channel 2 reported.
Investigators are still working to determine how the fire started.