February 13, 2013

One dead in burned-out mobile home fire (updated 10:05 p.m.)

Rachel Brown

CHATSWORTH — Investigators are still trying to determine how a mobile home fire at the foot of Fort Mountain started Tuesday evening and whether the man inside was killed as a result of the fire or died another way.

The man’s identity was being withheld pending notification of his family.

Murray County Sheriff’s Office Capt. John Cherry said officials haven’t been able to confirm or rule out anything suspicious about the fire at the home on Hensley Road. Cherry said the home was fully involved by flames by the time firefighters arrived after receiving a call around 7:30 p.m. The man’s body was discovered in a bedroom.

“Any time there is a body at a fire or any scene, we look at it from the aspect that it could be a crime scene,” Cherry said. “... There appears to be some head trauma, but we can’t tell (whether it’s) from the fire or what it’s from at this time.”

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation was called in because of their expertise and specialized equipment, Cherry said, and the state fire marshal’s office was also on scene. GBI workers on the scene referred questions to a supervisor who didn’t immediately return calls.

“Investigators have not determined the exact cause of the fire and the body of the deceased has been sent to the GBI crime lab in Atlanta for an autopsy,” Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner Ralph Hudgens said in a press release later Wednesday.

Neighbor Kiernan Withrow said she was doing homework Tuesday evening when she heard “something pop.”

“My mom went and checked, and she saw all the fire right back there,” Withrow said, gesturing toward the location in the distance. “It was over the trees. It just lit up the sky. So my mom told my dad to call 911.”

Neighbor Ed Gregg said the man had lived there about a year or less. He said he was sitting at his computer when he and his wife heard a “boom” Tuesday evening.

“When we looked up, the sky was all lit up,” Gregg said. “It was fully inflamed.”

Cherry said the man had at least one child who stayed with him periodically, but the child or children had already left before the fire started.