Five weekend fires in Henry

The Henry County Fire Department responded to five separate fires over the weekend, two involving residential dwellings, two involving outdoor burnings, and one involving a car, according to Interim Fire Chief Bill Lacy.

Fire investigators were called to each scene to inspect the blazes, the chief added.

"One cause [in one house fire] was determined to be food on the stove, and the other is still under investigation," said Fire Capt. Sabrina Puckett. "There were two woods fires, found to be accidental. They were initially controlled burns, that got away from the homeowners."

Recently, Chief Lacy said his department has responded to a "large number" of fires in wooded areas. "Increased wind and low humidity [contribute] to a higher incidence of that, especially when people are burning outdoors more frequently," he explained. The interim chief urged the public to be attentive to dry weather conditions, when deciding whether to burn items outdoors.

Chief Lacy said his agency deems the car fire "suspicious." He said the car appears to be a stolen vehicle. "It appeared to have been stripped," he said. Lacy did not reveal further details about the fire department's open investigation of the vehicle fire case. He said there was no evidence, to indicate the residential fire, and fires in wooded areas, were set intentionally.

"Despite the fact that the firefighters made quick offensive attacks, the fire [itself], combined with the wind, caused the fires [to] spread rapidly," Puckett said. "Fortunately, there were no injuries reported at any of the fires over the weekend."

The fire department responded to 740 fires in 2010, and has answered 81 fire calls in the first month of this year, authorities said.

"The fire department expects the numbers may exceed those of 2010," said Puckett.

Fire officials have looked into a possible link in the weekend fires, said Chief Lacy. "There's no connection between any of them," declared Lacy. He said some of the fires remain under investigation.

The string of fires began Saturday, at 12:39 p.m., with a blaze at 1412 Shelnutt Court in Hampton, according to Puckett.

Shirnett Pearson, a resident on Shelnutt Court, said the blaze outside her neighbor's home, appeared to be confined to the top of the house.

"When we ran outside, the fire was gushing through the roof," recalled Pearson.

The family had just moved into the house, she said, which she described now as apparently uninhabitable.

Two more fires followed Saturday, Puckett continued. One was at 2:17 p.m., at 135 Mayo Drive in McDonough, and the other was at 8:34 p.m., at 19 Elm St., in Hampton.

Deborah Butler lives near the Elm Street home. She said the family that lived in the house regularly spoke, when she saw members at the neighborhood convenience store in downtown Hampton.

"They're really nice people," Butler said. "I just hope it all turns out well for them. They are definitely in my prayers."

The fire department's busy weekend continued Sunday at 7:31 a.m., when a car fire was reported on North Speer Road, a dirt road in Stockbridge, according to Chief Lacy.

The fifth weekend fire also occurred Sunday, at 1:02 p.m. It was reported as a large "accidental" grass fire near 155 North Drive in Hampton, according to Puckett.