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Family arrives home from graduation ceremony to find home engulfed in flames

Updated: May. 23, 2021 at 10:10 PM EDT
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WALTHOURVILLE, Ga. (WTOC) - A Liberty County family is picking up the pieces after a fire destroyed much of their home Saturday night. It happened on Thompson Road in Walthourville.

Members of the Mojica family grabbed bags of belongings they’d salvaged from the fire inside their home. The family had been across town at their son’s high school graduation from Bradwell Institute when the blaze began shortly before 9:30 p.m.

“My little brother, the one who graduated, Javi, he got the phone call saying that his house was burning. My mom drove 70, 90 miles all the way here,” said Tatiana Mojica, sister of Bradwell Institute graduate Javier Mojica.

Fire crews got there six minutes after the 911 call, but the flames were already intense.

“The hallway and the bedroom area and things like that, the fire really never got down there. The heat and the smoke did, which was a great benefit to the family. Most of your personal belongings are in your bedroom areas,” said Chief Anthony Burns of the Walthourville Fire Department.

Family members told WTOC that Saturday was supposed to be the lone bright spot in an already tragic year for the family. The fire comes two months after the family’s oldest son, Sergio Miguel Ortega-Gonzalez, died in a crash in Bryan County. The fire destroyed the urn that held his ashes.

Overnight people offered assistance or donated to a GoFundMe account to help the family.

“Liberty County is very close knit. Word gets around fast, but help gets around fast as well,” said Mojica.

Family members say they are beyond grateful for the outpouring of support that has come in from across the community.

Chief Burns says no one was home at the time, but seven people were displaced by the fire. The cause is still under investigation.

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