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Fatal fire is probed
Family of 10 lost everything
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How to help


Gospel Baptist Church is collecting donations in the name of the Pope family. The church is at 680 Harmony Church Road, Dawsonville. A list of the family’s needs is available by calling Jennifer Newkirk at (678) 858-2582.


Bank accounts have also been set up in the name of Martha and Larry Pope at Bank of the Ozarks (formerly Chestatee State Bank) and SunTrust.


Officials have yet to determine the cause of last week’s fire on Pinewood Trail that killed an elderly Dawsonville woman and displaced 10 other people, including seven children.


Rosie Lee Holtzclaw, 84, was reportedly in a back bedroom when the blaze started about midnight Thursday.


“Everyone else was out of the house when emergency personnel arrived on scene,” said Lanier Swafford, chief of Dawson County Emergency Services.


Tim Satterifield, deputy chief, said the fire appears to have started near the laundry room.


“Investigators are not ruling out electrical,” he said.


Satterfield said fire investigators were told there were no working smoke detectors in the home.


The home was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived. Holtzclaw, who used a walker, was trapped in her bedroom.


She was pulled from the blaze and taken to Northside Hospital-Forsyth, where she was pronounced dead.


Dawson County Coroner Ted Bearden said an autopsy would determine the exact cause of death.


According to her obituary, Holtzclaw moved to Dawson County from neighboring Forsyth County about 20 years ago.


A homemaker at the time of her death, Holtzclaw had made a career as a cook in several restaurants in both counties.


She was living with her daughter and son-in-law, Martha and Larry Pope. The couple, who cares for seven of their grandchildren between the ages of nine months and 13 years, lost everything in the blaze.


Swafford said the survivors are staying with family.


“We’ve been in contact with the Red Cross and several other charitable organizations trying to get them help,” Swafford said.


Friends and family are also collecting donations.


Marjean Miller with Dawson County Family Connection said KARE for Kids is providing Christmas presents for the family.


“They’ve also been able to supply the family with some clothes,” Miller said. “It’s just been amazing how this community has come together for this family, and so quickly.”


Several churches and the local school system have also volunteered to gather donations or coordinate relief efforts.


“This is going to be a longer-term support effort than just getting through this week,” said Jennifer Newkirk, a school social worker.