Firefighters were kept busy responding to a host of emergency incidents during a severe thunderstorm that moved through the county during the afternoon and early evening hours. Below is a brief synopsis of the most significant incidents and preparedness activities.
The department activated its emergency operations plan (EOP) and staffed the operations “War Room” at Fire Headquarters to assist with deploying resources and covering open stations due to increased call volume. Three additional engines and one ladder truck were placed in-service to respond to storm related incidents. The Gwinnett Emergency Management Agency (EMA) activated the County EOC at the monitoring level with fire, police and public health representatives. The County EOC was activated out of an abundance of caution due to the fire at the nursing home/independent living facility and other storm related activities.
The following is a breakdown of significant incidents:
Firefighters responded at 3:38p.m., to an initial report of a fire alarm activated at the Delmar Gardens Assisted Living Facility, located at 3100 Club Drive, NW in Lawrenceville. The call was upgraded as reports were received of smoke inside the building. Firefighters arrived to find evacuation in progress by staff at the facility. Upon recon, firefighters encountered heavy smoke conditions on the third floor and an active fire in the attic of the building. Crews began to immediately assist with evacuation of elderly residents and deployed attack lines to control the fire. Per management at the facility, there were approximately 197 residents evacuated from the independent living and assisted living wings of the building. There were no injuries reported as a result of the fire. One resident was transported to the hospital for evaluation of a minor medical complaint. The fire was caused by a lightning strike to the roof of the building that sparked a fire in the attic. A second bolt of lightning struck a tree in front of the building as fire crews were arriving. The fire was contained to the attic and caused damage to part of the roof in the center of the building. There was extensive smoke damage to the third floor and residual smoke and water damage to part of the first and second floors. Firefighters coordinated with management to transport residents to nearby Northwood Country Club to be reunited with family and prepare for relocation assignments. The fire department notified the state fire marshal’s office concerning the fire and public health was also contacted by Gwinnett EMA. Officials from fire, police, EMA and public health were prepared to undertake more extensive evacuation and sheltering actions if needed. Fortunately all residents were able to be placed by management or were picked up by family members. The fire did not involve the nursing home side of the building and all residents in the nursing home were able to remain for the night. Only the residents in the independent living side were displaced.
- Firefighters responded at 3:27p.m., to a report of an apartment fire in the 2000 block of Howell Walk, NW in Duluth. Crews found smoke showing from the roof of the building on arrival. Firefighters began immediate evacuations and quickly deployed attack hose lines to control the fire. Firefighters discovered a smoldering fire in the pipe chase and walls between two apartment units. The fire extended to part of the attic and the floor system in the two affected apartment units. There were no injuries reported. The fire appears to be the result of a lightning strike to the building during the storm.
- Firefighters responded at 4:02p.m., to a report of an apartment fire in the 400 block of Amber Drive, NW in Norcross. Crews found a small smoldering fire that was contained to an exterior wall of the building on arrival. There was no major damage to the building and no injuries were reported. The fire was believed to be the result of a lightning strike.
Firefighters responded to a total of 8 reported house fires during the storm. Crews found no active fire on arrival at any of the incidents and continued to investigate a smell of smoke or an electrical odor. It is unknown whether lightning may have struck nearby and affected the electrical components. Two incidents involved a hot BBQ grill that was blown over and ignited a fire on the exterior deck. There was no major damage and no injuries reported. Locations included:
- Clipper Court, NW in Lawrenceville
- Blackwell Court, SW in Snellville
- Paces Woods Drive, NW in Lawrenceville
- Wyndham Place Drive, NW in Lawrenceville (lightning hit eave on front of the house. No active fire on arrival.)
- Craig Drive, NW in Duluth
- Red oak Lane, SW in Lawrenceville
- Winding Down Way, SW in Grayson
- Takely Drive, SW in Lawrenceville
TREE DOWN ON A HOUSE:
- Firefighters responded at 3:29p.m., to a report of a tree down on a house in the 2800 block of Nathan Court, SW in Lilburn. Crews found a large tree that fell through the roof of an occupied home on arrival. There were no injuries reported. The tree went through the roof and displaced the ceiling material. Utilities were secured to the structure and the occupants were notifying the insurance company.
- Firefighters responded at 3:58p.m., to a report of a tree down on a house to the left of 645 Westbrook Place, SW in Lawrenceville. Crews arrived to find a large tree that split in half and fell through the roof of an occupied home. There were no injuries reported. The tree went through the roof and displaced the ceiling material. The tree also pulled down the electrical service line. Utilities were secured to the structure and the occupants were notifying the insurance company.
Firefighters responded to 3 reports of smoke inside a residence during the storm. There was no sign of smoke or fire on arrival and all were deemed good intent calls. It is unknown whether lightning may have struck nearby and affected the electrical components. Locations included:
- Mansfield Lane, SW in Snellville (tree pulled down electrical service line to house.)
- Dallas Place, SW in Snellville (tree pulled down electrical service line to house.)
- Woodland lake Drive, SW in Snellville (possible lightning strike to electrical outlet and TV.)
Firefighters responded at 4:11p.m., to a report of a vehicle overturned in a retention pond adjacent to Berkmar High School in Lilburn. Crews found an SUV that flipped on its side and came to rest in a retention pond. The driver was evaluated by paramedics and released at the scene for a minor injury complaint. Only a small portion of the vehicle was submerged in water.