Two killed in Rabun County house fire

Fire destroyed this house in Rabun Gap just before dawn Thursday, killing two of the six people inside. Fire investigators are now trying to determine what caused the deadly blaze. (State Fire Marshal's Office)

Officials have still not released the names of the two people who died in a house fire in Rabun County. The fire broke out just before dawn Thursday at 734 Western Way in the Sylvan Lake Falls Subdivision in Rabun Gap. State and local fire officials are still investigating the deadly blaze.

Rabun County E-911 dispatched firefighters to the scene at 7:24 a.m. on January 13 with information there were possibly two people still inside the burning home. The first engine arrived in thirteen minutes and found the approximate 3000 square foot wood frame structure consumed by heavy fire, officials say.

“The fire had already burned through the roof and most of the exterior walls,” says Rabun County Assistant Fire Chief Justin Upchurch. “Three people had exited the fire prior to the fire department’s arrival.”

Crews on the scene requested an extra tanker and help from the Otto, North Carolina, Fire Department. They drew water from the lake at the bottom of the subdivision to help extinguish the blaze.

It took firefighters about 40 minutes to get the fire under control so they could begin searching for the two missing occupants. They found both of them dead.

The bodies were sent to the GBI Crime Lab in Decatur for autopsies. Officials are not releasing their names at this time, Upchurch says. Rabun County Coroner Sam Beck told Now Habersham Friday evening that they’re waiting to get positive identification from the GBI Crime Lab before releasing any names.

The fire completely destroyed the 14-year-old home. Crews used approximately 26,000 gallons of water fighting the flames and remained on scene for nearly six hours. The State Fire Marshal’s Office was called in to investigate.

“The cause of this devastating fire is still under investigation at this time, and our team is assisting the Rabun County Fire Department and Rabun County Coroner’s Office in this matter,” says State Fire Commissioner John King.

With these latest fatalities, King says fires have killed five people in Georgia so far this year.

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