Cleaning cobwebs with blow torch blamed for house fire in Sargent

by Elizabeth Richardson


Neighbors console members of the Winchell family in Sargent as Coweta County Fire Department personnel fight to save their home at 59 Smith Road. The fire started when the homeowner tried to remove cobwebs from the outside of the house using a blow torch.

A single-story home in Sargent was damaged by fire Wednesday morning after the homeowner accidentally set the fire while cleaning cobwebs from the eaves around the exterior of the residence with a blow torch.

The 1,400-square-foot, single-story home belonging to Galen and Tammy Winchell is at 59 Smith Road in Sargent. Shortly before 11 a.m. -- according to Coweta Fire Investigator James Gantt -- Galen Winchell was admittedly torching cobwebs when he noticed smoke coming from his home.

Emergency officials were notified immediately and three engines responded to the scene along with rescue squads, according to Gantt.

When firefighters arrived they reported heavy smoke coming from the attic. The response was hampered until the power company got to the scene to disconnect the power, which ran through the attic of the home. After that, it "didn't take long to put the fire out," said the fire investigator.

Family members and neighbors looked on with emotion while firefighters worked diligently to save the residence.

The fire was contained to one end of the house, however there was water damage and smoke damage throughout.

"This was an unfortunate accident," said Gantt. "Nobody was hurt, but it could have been a lot worse."

Gantt advised against using a blow torch to rid a home of cobwebs.

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