House fire started by cookout on deck

- Firefighters in DeKalb County were busy Saturday afternoon battling a massive house fire, which they believe started as an accident from a cookout.

Units with the DeKalb County Fire Rescue responded to a home on Hilton Drive late Saturday afternoon. Firefighters said the home was fully involved when they arrived at the scene.

The homeowner said he was warming up a propane cooker to prepare some French fries, and walked away as the grease slowly heated up; moments later, he saw smoke coming from the backyard. 

"I saw the grease had already caught fire," Harris said.

He then rushed to rescue his roommate in a wheelchair from the home.

"I picked him up off the bed, and carried him out the door," he said.

Images provided to FOX 5 News by firefighters at the scene show the back deck of the home completely charred. Firefighters said they had to smash windows to get into the home to make an interior attack on the blaze.

"The lesson here is that, whenever you're going to be grilling, you should always maintain your grill. you should never leave a grill unattended. Anything that you're cooking on the outside or inside of your home, it should always be maintained, and someone should keep a close eye on it, because these things can happen in a split second," said Battalion Chief Vera Morrison.

“Especially when we're talking about grills on a deck; you know the deck is comprised of mostly wood, and you've got your patio furniture and things like that. So, there's a heavier fire load there,” Chief Morrison said.

Fire officials said there was extensive damage to the home.

“So we want all the residents of DeKalb County to be aware. We want them to enjoy themselves and we don't want to scare them and say ‘You shouldn't barbecue,’ because you absolutely should, but we want you to be safe and make sure you keep eyes on your grills at all times,” said Morrison.

Harris said he is heartbroken his beloved home is destroyed.

"That's my life... 26 years," he said, tearfully.

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