Child helps family escape Norcross fire that gutted home

An alert child helped a Norcross family escape unharmed, but they lost all their possessions in a house fire Thursday night.

"The fire gutted the home," Gwinnett fire Capt. Tommy Rutledge told the AJC.

Gwinnett County firefighters responded to reports about a blaze at a single-story house in the 2800 block of Payne Road NW around 7:30 p.m.

The family renting the house -- two adults and three children -- had arrived home around 6:30 p.m and parked their 2004 Ford Explorer in the attached carport, authorities said. Later, one of the children saw flames from a back window of the house and alerted the rest of the family.

The children range in age from 2 to 9 years old, Rutledge told the AJC.

"I don't know which child alerted the others," he said.

Everyone went outside and saw the Explorer and garage in flames.

"We are fortunate that the family was able to escape uninjured," Rutledge said.

The fire spread, and intense conditions prevented the crews from immediately entering the wood-frame home upon arrival, so the blaze was fought from outside, he said. The fire was under control by 8:15 p.m.

The heavily damaged house is a total loss, Rutledge said, and the cause of the fire is under investigation.

The American Red Cross has been contacted to help the family.

The fire was one of several blazes that kept Gwinnett firefighters busy overnight.

Just before 11 p.m., fire crews sent to the 1100 block of Carla Joe Drive near Lilburn found heavy fire and smoke showing from the back of a split-level, wood frame house, Rutledge said. No one was home at the time, and no injuries were reported.

There was also on one at home when a two-story home on Park Manor Lane near Snellville caught fire around 1:30 a.m. Friday. That blaze caused extensive damage to the second floor and attic of the house, Rutledge said.