CLAYTON — Two fires at a Rabun County house in less than 24 hours are under investigation.
The fires, at 1025 Screamer Drive on Screamer Mountain near Clayton, were reported Thursday morning and in the early-morning hours of Friday.
"Initial dispatch was around 8:30" Thursday morning, said Rabun County Assistant Fire Chief Justin Upchurch. "Station 1, Station 2 and Stations 12 and 6, and then they added Station 5 because we needed manpower and water shuttle operations."
There initially was a question of whether someone was inside the burning house.
"Upon our arrival, it was a one-story house on a full basement," Upchurch said. "We had heavy fire showing from the upstairs portion. There was a vehicle in the driveway, so we were unsure due to the time of morning and having the vehicle in the driveway if anybody was trapped. One of the neighbors did tell us that the occupant who rented the house lived in the basement portion, so we entered the structure and did a primary search and cleared the basement portion."
When firefighters concluded their primary search of the home, the 9-1-1 dispatch center notified them that the resident had called to say he was out of the home and in town, and that there was no one else inside the house.
"We did an offensive attack and got the fire knocked down probably in about 30 minutes or so," Upchurch said. "After that, we overhauled it and after overhaul we checked everything and no fire."
Rabun County Fire Marshal Scott Crane investigated the fire, and interviewed the renter of the home.
Hours later, firefighters returned to check the structure to make sure the fire had not rekindled.
"Once we cleared the scene, our units actually went back to check, as we do a lot of times, to check on the residence," Upchurch said. "They went back and found no hot spots. Everything was cooled. No smoke or residual steam or anything. That was around 6:30 in the evening [Thursday]."
But several hours later, things at the scene changed dramatically.
"Sometime after midnight, we were called to the same residence for a fully-involved structure fire," Upchurch said. "At that time of the night it was burning good enough where you could actually see it from town burning up on the mountain."
When units arrived, they advised on the radio that the fire line tape that fire officials had placed on the driveway had been torn down, Upchurch said.
"They had heavy fire conditions on both floors," Upchurch said. "It was fully involved. It was a defensive operation, and we were there and the last units cleared the scene at approximately 5 or 5:30 this [Friday] morning."
Rabun County Stations 1, 6 and 12, along with a tanker from Station 5 and manpower from Station 2, responded.
No one was injured.
The investigation is continuing.