Four Gwinnett homes damaged in predawn blaze

Neighbors pitched in to alert one another early Wednesday when a predawn fire damaged four homes in a neighborhood near Lawrenceville, displacing 13 people.

The fire broke out before 4 a.m. Wednesday in a home on Morning Glory Lane and spread to adjacent houses, according to Gwinnett County fire Lt. Colin Rhoden.

Rhoden said the house where the fire originated was a total loss, and the homes on either side of that house sustained roof and attic damage. The vinyl siding on a fourth house was damaged by radiant heat, Rhoden said.

Red Cross assistance was called for the seven adults and six children displaced by the blaze, he said.

A child and a pregnant woman were treated at the scene for minor injuries, Channel 2 Action News reported.

The cause of the fire has not been determined.

Roger Merritt lives in one of the damaged houses adjacent to where the fire started. He said he was awakened by his dogs barking and someone banging on his door.

“Our neighbor, the one whose house completely burned down, she was there,” said Merritt, who has lived in the neighborhood for 18 years. “She knows we’ve got six kids and my wife’s pregnant, and she knocked on our door, got us out.”

Merritt described the houses on the street as “starter homes.”

“They’re just like matchbooks,” he said, “they just went up.”

Merritt said a neighbor’s dog perished in the fire.

“We had a little bit of time, where they didn’t,” he said. “Our house wasn’t on fire until everybody was out. We got our computers and our phones out, got all the kids out.

“Everyone’s alive,” Merritt said. “That’s the only thing that matters.”

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