DAHLONEGA, Ga. - It was just another Sunday afternoon for two friends from Bravo Company cadets at the University of North Georgia.
"We were just driving around on Crown Mountain," said Cadet Hunter Howlin. "We were showing Uwase around Dahlonega and then we saw smoke billowing out from behind a house."
The three cadets, Chris Harvey, Hunter Howlin and Yannick “Fred” Uwase Sekamana, were driving by and immediately noticed how fast the wind was blowing the fire toward the house.
Howlin dialed 911 to get the Fire Department on the scene, while Harvey and Uwase got out of the vehicle and ran to the house. Initially no one answered the door, so they immediately began fighting the fire before the Fire Department even arrived on the scene. Bill opened the door, surprised to discover what had changed in the short period of time he was in the house.
"It was pretty close to catching the house on fire," explained Cadet Harvey. "We had water in the car, so we started using that and stomping out other areas of the fire where we could."
They also went on to elaborate that the wheelbarrow in the yard "was all melted", and they even had to move a riding lawn mower that the flames were close to engulfing.
"We just picked it up and moved it. It didn't start," Uwase recounted - as if carrying heavy machinery was an everyday task.
Apparently Bill Grier, the homeowner, was burning some brush in the back yard. He stepped inside just briefly to get something. Meanwhile, his wife, Sharon Thomason a local real estate agent with Chestatee Real Estate, was out and about showing homes. While Bill was in the house, the wind spread the fire rapidly, and it began to approach the back porch and house. Sharon arrived home about the same time the fire began to spread.
"I drove up and I saw flames and smoke and three young men in my yard fighting a fire," explained Sharon. "I remember them saying 'Ma'am don't go in there!' to which I of course replied 'It's my house - I live here!'"