Palmetto house fire claims three lives

Malfunctioning medical equipment has been named as the cause of a house fire Tuesday morning in Palmetto that claimed the lives of three of its occupants.

Though the investigation is continuing, the state fire marshal and Georgia Insurance and Fire Commissioner John Oxendine have concluded that the fire started as a result of malfunctioning medical equipment.

The fire was reported to Palmetto firefighters at 5:54 a.m. Tuesday when Nancy Millar, one of the residents of the 50 year-old Locke Street log cabin, ran to the fire department about a block away to summon firefighters, said Palmetto Fire Chief Henry Argo. Millar told firefighters she ran to the station because she could not find her telephone to call 911, Argo said.

Family members inside the residence at the time of the fire included Millar’s husband, 55 year-old Thomas G. Millar, Jr., her mother, 89 year-old Irene Wiggle and her brother, 51 year-old Marcus Usher.

Palmetto firefighters, soon assisted by crews from Fairburn and Chattahoochee Hills, arrived to find heavy smoke coming from the front of the house, said Argo.

“They went to the rear of the house because they knew of a person living there that was bed-ridden,” said Argo. “They got to the rear of the house and found heavy smoke and very high heat and couldn’t progress.”

Argo said firefighters went back to the front and entered the home, only to find the heat so intense that they could only get a few feet inside the house.

“They had to back out due to the high heat,” Argo said, noting the emotions that came with being unable to reach those in need. “We knew them and it’s tough on the guys. They made every effort.”

Recovered later inside the home were Millar’s husband, mother and brother. Her brother had been bed-ridden and was on a ventilator, Argo said.