Resident wants answers after Mell St. house fire

Resident wants answers after Mell St. house fire
(Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC)

GARDEN CITY, GA (WTOC) - Imagine coming back from the mandatory evacuation following Hurricane Matthew, finding your house for the most part intact, only to lose it to a fire hours later.

That's one Savannah woman's reality. Monday, we learned more about the circumstances that may have led to that heartbreaking loss.

The Hudson Hill home has belonged to Sarah Gordon's family for years, given to her by her grandmother. And she says what's just as frustrating as losing the home, is how it was lost.

"When I first got back, the tree was down, right here on the power line. But the only damage was the little piece of the roof that was snagged from the tree falling during Hurricane Matthew," said Gordon.

Gordon and her three young children were lucky and glad to still have a home with so much destruction around.  But their relief was short-lived.

"Unfortunately I got a call a few hours later that my home was on fire," she said.

That call came from her neighbor, Anthony Oliver. Oliver was initially excited when his power came back on the Monday following the hurricane, but at that point, trees and branches were still dragging power lines toward the ground. He says he brought that to the attention of a Georgia Power crew.

"It was four gentlemen. They got out the truck and came through the yard right here, and I went to ask them if they were going to fix the wire first before they turned the power back on. Because I was concerned about her house, but also my property too," Oliver said.

Oliver says the live lines sparked a small fire that was extinguished by the power crew. The second round of sparks went unnoticed until it was too late.

"I said 'hey, the house is on fire.' So they backed the truck up and the guy said, 'oh my lord,'" said Oliver.

Without insurance, Gordon says she's filed a property damage claim with Georgia Power, with hopes she'll recoup some of what she's lost.

"A lot of memories burned in here. And it just was crazy, I came home to a home from hurricane Matthew, and then a few hours later it was gone. It's hurtful because that's what my grandmother left to me. And it just feels like the day they told me she passed because she's not living anymore. And this was our safe haven, everybody wanted to come here," said Gordon.

Georgia Power is aware of this situation, but it's not clear what, if any, liability falls on them and the crew working that day, or if their actions even caused the fire.

Georgia Power officials released this statement in regards to the fire:

Georgia Power works to thoroughly investigate any property damage report submitted. Throughout its history, the company has been successful in satisfying its customers by resolving claims where property damage is determined to be our responsibility.

Natural disasters like hurricanes often damage electrical equipment and connections in or on the home. After storms and power outages, Georgia Power cautions customers to turn off appliances and, when damage is present, to have their electrical system repaired by a licensed electrician and inspected before service is restored.

Georgia Power continues to follow-up on various customer requests following the devastation of Hurricane Matthew. We are aware of the location referenced and are currently in touch with the customer, reviewing the case and gathering facts.

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