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Family rescued from balcony during fire
5 House fire pic
Crews from Dawson and Forsyth counties were able to contain a fire Thursday at a Grizzle Farm Road home, where the occupants were rescued from a third-floor balcony. - photo by Michele Hester Dawson Community News

Firefighters rescued three people from a third-floor balcony Thursday after a fire broke out at a home on Grizzle Farm Road.

The family's two pets were also able to escape the blaze, according to Dawson County Emergency Services Chief Lanier Swafford.

"There were no reported injuries in the fire," he said. "Everyone was able to get out safe and none of our personnel reported any injuries."

While the fire remains under investigation, the owner said she believes it started with a heat lamp malfunction in the basement.

Carla Nieuwoudt, who was at home with her toddler son and a friend when the blaze broke out, said she wanted to thank the men and women who saved them.

"They did such a superb job. I'm just so very grateful," she said. "I had one of those emergency ladders under my bed, but I couldn't climb down it with my son."

She was attempting to rock son EJ to sleep when she began to smell smoke.

"He didn't want to take a nap, because he was so excited that my friend was here," Nieuwoudt said. "His room was very badly damaged. If he'd been in there sleeping, he would be dead."

The trauma initially upset the toddler. But after getting some firefighter blocks and talking to him about what happened, EJ is OK, she said.

"We bought him some Legos that are firefighters and told him that they were there saving us," she said.

With the temperatures topping 90 degrees at the time, Swafford said there was concern for the safety of personnel fighting the fire.

"With extreme temperatures, we're very mindful of firefighter hydration," he said. "With a fire like that in that heat, they really needed to start preparing by drinking lots of water three or four days before."

In addition to crews from Dawson County, reinforcements were called in from neighboring Forsyth to knock down the blaze that was contained to the interior of the house.

"We have limited resources especially during the day, and we were strapped," he said. "This one taxed the whole county. We were out of trucks, and by that I mean ambulances, on several occasions that day."

Crews were also responding to a wreck and a medical call around the same time as the fire.