F’ville firefighters had close call in house fire that killed elderly couple

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UPDATED for print Tuesday, March 17, 2015 — Fayetteville firefighters were battling to get inside a burning house March 14 when something exploded in the attic above them, collapsing the flaming roof nearly onto their heads.

There were no injuries, but the firefighters had to pull back until they could get more water on the area.

Fayetteville Fire Chief Alan Jones said crews responded to the fire call at approximately 1:50 p.m. and made initial entry into the house within five minutes of being dispatched.

Firefighters arriving at the scene found very heavy fire involvement, Jones said, adding that the fire was especially heavy in the rear of the house.

Jones said the roof began to collapse upon initial entry, requiring firefighters to back out until they could get the fire “knocked down” sufficiently to permit re-entry into the house.

It was an explosion of unknown origin that caused rapid expansion of flames in the attic and forced firefighters to temporarily exit the burning house, Jones said.

“It may have been combustibles in the attic, but we’re not sure,” said Jones.

When they were able to get back inside, they discovered two elderly victims, a man and his wife who had not been able to get out of their burning home in Clairmont subdivision in time.

“Killed by the fire was Lamar Beckwith, 94, and his wife Catherine Beckwith, 88,” said a news release from Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner Ralph Hudgens March 14.

The home, located at 185 Biltmore Drive in Clairmont subdivision, was destroyed.

“Fire investigators determined that an electrical malfunction in a rear bedroom caused the blaze.” the news release said.

Jones said there were no injuries to firefighters.

Mutual aid assistance was requested and received from Fayette County Fire and Emergency Services, said Jones.

The Fayetteville Fire Department assisted with the investigation, said the state news release.

So far in 2015, 34 Georgians have died in residential fires.

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Earlier online version  —

An elderly Fayetteville man and his wife died Saturday in an accidental house fire, according to state fire marshals.

“Killed by the fire was Lamar Beckwith, 94, and his wife Cathrine Beckwith, 88. The fire was reported around 1:50 p.m.,” said a news release from Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner Ralph Hudgens March 14.

“Fire investigators determined that an electrical malfunction in a rear bedroom caused the blaze.” the news release said.

The home, located at 185 Biltmore Drive in Clairmont subdivision off Ga. Highway 314 North, was destroyed.

Fayetteville Fire Chief Alan Jones said crews responded to the fire call at approximately 1:50 p.m. and made initial entry into the house in Clairmont subdivision within five minutes of being dispatched.

Firefighters arriving at the scene found very heavy fire involvement, Jones said, adding that the fire was especially heavy in the rear of the house.

Jones said the roof began to collapse upon initial entry, requiring firefighters to back out until they could get the fire “knocked down” sufficiently to permit re-entry into the house.

Firefighters after 4:30 p.m. were still hitting hot spots and attending to the victims, said Jones.

Jones said there were no injuries to firefighters.

Mutual aid assistance was requested and received from Fayette County Fire and Emergency Services, said Jones.

The Fayetteville Fire Department assisted with the investigation, said the state news release.

So far in 2015, 34 Georgians have died in residential fires.

All photos below by Katie Munford.