What was supposed to be a blissful evening turned into a night of horror for one local family who awoke Saturday night to find their home up in flames.
An Oct. 7 house fire in Dawson County displaced a recently engaged couple and their young daughter and brought out a heroic act of bravery from a neighbor.
According to Dawson County Emergency Services Director Lanier Swafford, emergency personnel responded at 10:20 p.m. to a house fire at 188 April Trace off Crane Road.
The 1,506 square foot home was fully involved when personnel arrived, and the roof was already collapsing, Swafford said. Prior to the arrival of emergency services, two occupants of the home had been aided in exiting the home by a neighbor.
Living in the home were Catherine Chumbley, 26, Marcus Sneen, 30, and the couple’s 5-month-old daughter Sophia.
Chumbley and Sneen were rescued by their neighbor, Travis Chastain, who broke windows when he couldn’t access the front door, allowing Sneen to escape and pulling Chumbley to safety.
Sophia was not in the home at the time of the fire and was staying with her grandmother, according to Chumbley.
The two were transported to an area hospital and then transferred to a burn unit in Cobb County.
Sneen had proposed marriage to Chumbley only hours earlier. The engagement ring was lost in the fire.
“You don’t know what a terrifying experience it is until you go through it,” said Chumbley about narrowly escaping the fire. “We’re so thankful to be alive and have each other.”
The house is a total loss and the family did not have insurance.
The house belonged to Chumbley’s grandmother, who gave the couple the house so they would always have a home, Chumbley said.
“That’s what bothers me the most about it, that it was my grandmother’s house,” Chumbley said. “But everyone has been so good to us and so willing to help.”
The family is accepting donations of clothes, baby items including diapers and formula, and other necessities. Drop off dates will be announced, but for right now Turner and Pooch in downtown Dawsonville has offered to collect donations.
One of the family’s greatest need is clothes: women’s tops size 2x and 3x, women’s stretchy pants in size 3x and women’s shoes size 9 for Chumbley; men’s tops in size large, men’s pants in 36x32 and men’s shoes size 9 for Sneen; and baby clothes size 6 to 9 months and up for Sophia. Winter clothes such as coats and closed toed shoes will also be needed in the coming months.
A GoFundMe page has also been set up for the family, so that they can put a down payment on a trailer, according to Sneen.