Richard Pollina, who has lived on McPherson Drive in the Mountain Creek subdivision north of Post Oak Tritt in east Cobb since the ’70s, said the home belonging to Bob and Jean Fagan caught fire around 7 p.m. Saturday.
“I was sitting in the front room of my house and saw blue lights,” he said Sunday morning while recalling the incident.
After walking outside, Pollina discovered Bob Fagan, who he believes is in his ’80s, standing in his driveway, barefoot, looking at his home while the flames engulfed it.
He told Pollina that he had just returned home from church and was preparing his dinner when he heard a “crackling” sound come from near the Christmas tree.
His wife was in Seattle, Wash., visiting one of their eight children.
“He was shaking … said the Christmas tree caught fire and all he could think about was getting out,” Pollina said. “I couldn’t get him to go inside my house. He sat here in my driveway with a blanket over him.”
Pollina described the fire as “unreal.”
“The house went up like a torch!” he remembered, adding that he video recorded it. “Once the fire got into the roof that was it. The flames were as wide as the windows coming out of the house and about 10 or 15 feet above the roof line.”
Pollina said the roof, which had been replaced in the last three months, collapsed and that neighbors on all sides of the home could see flames.
“Boy, it was a big fire!” he said. “Flames were coming out the up and down stairs. I was amazed how fast it went up in flames.”
All that remains of the brick home now is the garage and the family’s two cars.
And while it was sad to see the couple lose their home, Pollina said he was comforted by the number of neighbors who came out to check on Fagan.
“It was good to see the love,” he said. “A lot of neighbors were here last night.”
He said Fagan stayed with one of his children Saturday night who lives just north of Atlanta.
Pollina also said he saw firefighters on the scene until around 11:30 p.m. Saturday.
“They returned again round 3 a.m. to put out what I think were hot spots and then they came back again around 7 a.m. for a walk through of the damage,” he said.
Lt. Dan Dupree with Cobb Fire said his department received a call from 911 just after 6:45 p.m. Saturday that a home was on fire. He said about half of the home was “fully involved” when firefighters arrived on the scene.
“It was a total loss,” Dupree said Sunday, estimating that roughly 90 percent of the home was destroyed in the fire.
He said it took firefighters about an hour to get the blaze under control and that five engines, one ladder truck, a rescue truck and the battalion chief, which was about 24 people, responded to the scene.
“There were no injuries to anyone, although we did have to deal with the high winds and cold temperatures,” he said.
Dupree also said he believed this was the first fire of the year in Cobb caused by a Christmas tree.