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Blaze damages home in Heath community

A Monday afternoon fire caused extensive damage to the home of a Heath family.

The wood frame house was home to Jim and Maxine Mills and their two daughters Miranda and Kassandra.

Both the Heath and Gantt volunteer fire departments responded to the blaze, which caused damage to at least 70 percent of the home.

Heath Volunteer Fire Chief Mike Reeves said his department received its initial call about the fire at approximately 5:23 p.m., saying the house received much water damage and the fire appeared to quickly move from a back room in the house, a washer and dryer room, and into a bedroom.

Reeves said his department and the Gantt department were the only units at the scene, and said there never was a consideration to call the Andalusia Fire Department as it is common practice for county volunteer departments to rely on mutual aid among each other.

Jim Mills said his family is now in the process of "sifting through and trying to recover anything that can be salvageable."

He said he was greatly appreciative of the efforts of both the Heath and Gantt departments.

"I cannot say enough about the efforts of the Heath and Gantt fire departments," said Mills. "They are volunteers and they are truly unsung heroes."

Mills said he was at Golden Corral taking a break between both jobs that he works when he received a call about the fire, and immediately left the restaurant for the Mills' home.

He said while he was shaken by the fire like the rest of the family, he added the fire was not nearly as devastating as it could have been.

"No one was hurt, and that was the main thing, and we were able to salvage a few important things, like I was able to salvage some photos of my mother and father-in-law," said Mills.

"Things can be replaced, but as long as there are no injuries, we will make it."

He said the house will have to be leveled, adding that basically the whole back side of the house is open.

He said his oldest daughter, Miranda, suffered the greatest losses in terms of personal items such as her high school graduation ring and other various items including furniture. He added that her sister, Kassandra, and the rest of the family were a bit more fortunate.

Mills said the fire, which apparently began in the washer and dryer room appears to have been caused by some type of electrical problem, including perhaps some type of shortage.

As far as immediate plans for the family, Mills said the co-manager for Winn Dixie, which is one of the places Mills works, has offered him a place in Gantt. Mills said he will likely opt to relocate to that spot, at least while the family gets its feet back on the ground.

Although Monday proved to be a rough one for the family, with perhaps more tough times ahead in the near future, Mills said he can always look at the positives, such as no member of his family being injured and the fact that the family can work through this trial together.