Tifton Gazette

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January 22, 2014

Nashville fire claims 3 lives

TIFTON — A house fire early Wednesday morning has left three people dead; three others escaped.

Chuck Edwards, police chief at the Nashville Police Department, announced in a press release Wednesday afternoon that at approximately 3:26 a.m. that morning, NPD officers were dispatched to a structure fire at 634 Sheppard Ave. in Nashville (Berrien County).

Within three minutes, Nashville officers and firefighters arrived at the scene and observed the home completely engulfed in flames. Strong winds had also caused the fire to jump to the home next door at 632 Sheppard Ave. Nashville firefighters, assisted by the West Berrien Fire Department, battled the blaze for approximately two hours.

The release states that while the damage at 632 Sheppard Ave. was limited to an exterior wall with minimal damage to the interior and no injuries to the occupants, the home at 634 Sheppard Ave. was a total loss and there were six people inside at the time the fire broke out.

Of the six, three managed to escape the dwelling and survived with no or minimal injury reported; three died in the fire. The survivors are 42-year-old Kathy Garcia, 32-year-old Shay Catlit and 20-year-old Jay Hawkins Jr. The deceased were identified as 39-year-old Artoro Garcia, 18-year-old Toby Keith Hawkins and 17-year-old Christopher Rowan.

Edwards says preliminary investigation by the NPD and the Berrien County coroner indicated no evidence of foul play. The Georgia State Fire Marshal’s Office was brought in to assist in the continuing investigation to determine the exact cause of the fire.

To contact reporter Latasha Ford, call 382-4321.

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