Three dead in Nashville house fire - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Nashville fire victims identified

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Toby Hawkins Toby Hawkins
NASHVILLE, GA (WALB) -

In the middle of the night, a fire broke out at this home at 634 Sheppard drive in Nashville with six people inside.

"At 3-25 this morning, we got a call to a house fire. When we got here, it was fully engulfed," said David Register, night shift sergeant with the Nashville Police Department.

Investigators determined the fire was started by unattended cooking in the kitchen.

By the time firefighters put out the fire... 18 year-old Toby Hawkins, 17 year-old Christopher Rowan, and 39 year-old Arturo Garcia were dead.

Gene Sutton lives next door. He said he didn't know the victims well, but they seemed like nice people.

"They were good, friendly neighbors and always liked to walk the street and they'd always talk to me and say 'hey, how I was doing' but that's all I really knew about 'em," Sutton said.

Sutton's home was also damaged in the fire.

High winds blew the flames into his house, damaging an exterior wall and even catching his bedroom on fire.

"It was a big rush for us, I gotta' say," Sutton admitted. "But, we managed to get out safely, without any harm done, but it did burn our house as well"

Sutton said firefighters had to break his bedroom window to get inside and put out the fire. He credits his mother for getting him and the rest of his family out of their house safely.

"I was asleep. My mom came running in. It was crazy, 'cuz she was saying 'hurry up! hurry up! get up, there's a fire, there's a fire!,'' explained Sutton.

Another neighbor, who didn't want her face to be shown on camera, says she was praying that the fire didn't hit her house.

"I pray, because it was so close. I pray, I pray," said the neighbor.

While the house may be gone, the victims will remain in the memories of their neighbors as they begin to cope with this tragic loss.

Shay Catlett, Garcia's wife, Kathy Bennet Garcia, and her other son, Jay Hawkins, Jr., escaped the fire but were taken to a hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation.

The Office of  Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner Ralph Hudgens issued this release-

The fire, which occurred around 3:25 a.m., killed Arturo Garcia, 39, his stepson, Toby Hawkins, 16, and family friend Christopher Rowan, 17.  The house, located at 634 Shepard Street, Nashville, Ga., was destroyed.

"The investigation revealed that the fire originated in the kitchen, and was the result of unattended cooking," Hudgens said. "We found nothing suspicious about this tragic fire."

Injured in the blaze were Kathy Garcia, 42, and Shay Catlett, 32. Both Garcia and Catlett sustained smoke inhalation, and were transported to the South Georgia Medical Center. Jay Hawkins, 20, escaped with no injuries.

"With this tragedy in Nashville, we've had 15 fire fatalities reported this year in Georgia," Hudgens said.  "I urge all Georgian to use extreme caution while cooking and heating their homes."

Fire Investigators with Hudgens' office were assisted in the investigation by the Nashville Police Department.

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