Authorities investigating Tuesday afternoon house fire in Whitfield County, one person injured
According to a Whitfield County E911 CAD and Whitfield County Sheriff's Office incident report, on Tuesday, April 21st, 2020, at approximately 3:18 PM, a 911 caller said her neighbor's house located at 2012 Tunnel Hill Varnell Road was on fire and flames were visible. Six minutes later, Engine 7 arrived on scene advising heavy smoke showing from A and C side of the house. Battalion 2 arrived shortly after advising Whitfield 911 it was a working fire. At 3:58 PM, Battalion 2 advised the fire was under control. At 5:15 PM, a Whitfield County Sheriff's Office Detective was contacted by Whitfield County 911 and advised that Whitfield County Fire Department Arson Investigator requested that he contact him via telephone. The detective contacted the Arson Investigator, who advised a 68-year-old male subject was burned and taken to the hospital. Once on the scene, the detective was shown the area believed to be the point of origin of the structure fire. The detective spoke with the resident, Victor Torres, who advised he was in Calhoun, Ga, at his daughter's house. Torres's roommate, Elmer Burke, was burning brush in a burn barrel behind the house. Burke called Torres and stated Burke had gotten burned and needed to be taken to the hospital. Torres drove to the house and found Burke trying to put out the fire in the burn barrel with buckets of water. Torres stated Burke had bandaged his right arm. Torres got a bucket and began putting out the fire in the burn barrel and at the base of the house near the carport. Torres stated he could see grey smoke coming from the siding. Torres believed the fire was put out, and he drove Burke to Hamilton Medical Center's Emergency Room. Torres left the hospital and went to Calhoun to attempt to fix his broken cellphone. Torres then returned to the hospital to check on Burke. When Torres returned to the residence at 2012 Tunnel Hill Varnell Road, he saw more smoke coming from the back of the house. Torres attempted to use a bucket with water to put out the fire. A neighbor then called Whitfield County 911 about the fire. At approximately 7:21 PM, the detective contacted Elmer "Skip" Burke via telephone. Elmer Burke advised he had been transferred to Cobb Wellstar Hospital. Burke stated he lives at the residence located at 2012 Tunnel Hill Varnell Road with Victor Torres. Burke said he decided to burn some brush in a burn barrel behind the house. Burke stated he lit the sticks and limbs and went inside for a few minutes. When Burke returned, the fire appeared to have gone out, so he poured gasoline in the barrel, and the fire flashed and jumped up and lit his right arm on fire. Burke stated he did the "stop, drop and roll" until the fire went out. Pictures from the Whitfield County Fire Facebook page.