Pike County Times

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PO Box 843, Zebulon, Georgia 30295. You can donate through PayPal at the link on the bottom of the page. Becky Watts: Phone # 770-468-7583 editor(@)pikecountytimes.com
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Dump tank water shuttle

Ladder truck helping with the fire
Overnight Fire Claims Life
By Editor Becky Watts

ZEBULON - The Pike County Fire Department responded to a structure fire at 5343 Hwy 19 at 9:05 p.m. on Tuesday, December 15, 2020. Upon the arrival of fire department personnel, the duplex was fully involved, and there was a report of a person trapped inside.

Fire Department personnel made entry into the unburned portion of structure in an attempt to locate the victim, but the victim was not located in the portions of the structure that could be reached by personnel at that time.

A body recovery took place after entry into the structure was deemed safe by chief personnel.

There were multiple fire trucks and tankers on the scene, and there was a dump tank shuttle being used to relay water to extinguish the fire. Meansville Fire Department was on scene to assist the Pike County Fire Department with this fire.

Life Flight was also called to the scene at the beginning of the incident in hopes that the victim could be flown for treatment.

Personnel did not leave the scene of the fire until after 1 a.m.

The scene was investigated by the State Fire Marshal today. He determined that the cause of the fire was an improper use of space heaters.

The victim has been sent to the GBI Crime Lab for identification. Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner John F. King announced in a press release today that Kevin Lee Botsford, 56, was the victim.

Night photos are courtesy of the Pike County Fire Department.

[Note from the Editor added on 12.17.20: Pike County Times was contacted by multiple sources about an "explosion" that occurred in this fire. I contacted the entity from which that press release was issued as well as the Fire Chief here in Pike County who explained what happened on the scene of the fire. The following paragraphs explain in detail exactly what happened. (FYI If a propane tank had exploded, any volunteers in close proximity to it would likely have ended up in the hospital.) That being said, our volunteer firefighters and the fire auxilliary never hear thank you enough for the job they do for free here in our county. To all who came out to fight this fire and attempt to save the victim as well as those who have gone on countless fires over the years, THANK YOU.]

Fire Chief Rick O'Barr advised that a five gallon propane tank vented and quickly released its contents all at once making a big fire close to the volunteers who were making entry to find the victim of the fire. This is a safety feature that works by a disc melting to release the contents in an approximately 20 second or so blast instead of exploding. There were multiple 5 gallon propane tanks inside the house.

Venting is quite loud and sounds like a jet engine, but it is not "an explosion." This occurred within minutes of the Fire Chief and volunteers arriving on the scene and making entry to try to save the victim.

The Office of Commissioner John F. King gave the following clarification when contacted by Pike County Times: "The Pike County fire chief told our investigator that, upon entering the home, a propane tank line ruptured and sprayed flames onto the incoming firefighters."

Thank you for trusting Pike County Times to report the news as it occurs in our county.