Courtesy Jonathan Copsey; Appen Newspapers
December 10, 2010
Milton - Milton Councilman Burt Hewitt now knows first-hand what it's like to rush into a burning building after a day of training with local firefighters at a controlled blaze of a house on Thompson Road.
"It's hot - really hot - and very dark," he said. "All the thick black smoke means you can't see a thing. You've got to stay low, and with the turnout gear and air tank weighing you down, it's a real challenge to move."
Hewitt joined Milton Fire Chief Robert Edgar and Training Officer Jason Baswell as they first explored, then attacked burning portions of the donated house with a fire hose Dec. 2. It may have been below freezing when they started, but by the time the team left the house, everyone was plenty warmed up.
"When you get in, everything in your body is telling you to stand up, run and get out of there," said Hewitt. "That they fight that feeling and stay cool, calm and collected is amazing."
"There's so much involved in identifying and stopping that fire once you see it - the science of the job is just incredible. I have a newfound respect for the people who do this every day," he said.
Both Milton and Alpharetta fire companies trained in the home, which was used for three days before being burned to the ground late Thursday afternoon.
Karen Drewery, of Cumming, donated the house to the city, and was on hand when it finally went up in flames after the training exercises.
"The house was empty for a long time," she said, adding that it was unable to be renovated or updated since it was so old. She was looking for land in the Milton area for several months before she found the Thompson Road site and loved the property. She approached the city of Milton, which allows such practice; Alpharetta and Forsyth County do not.
"I'm glad they were able to do something with it," Drewery said. "It's great."