Firefighters in Tift County were called out several times Thursday night, including a fatal and fiery car crash and a house fire that is under investigation.
According to a report from the Georgia State Patrol, Ivy John Istre Jr. of Ocilla, 46, was hit while driving his pickup on Highway 319, near Mt. Olive Church Road, just north of Tifton. Istre's vehicle was struck by another pickup, driven by 45-year-old Florida resident Jeffrey Ramsey, who crossed the center line and hit Istre head-on.
Istre's vehicle burst into flames, and according to Tifton-Tift County Fire Chief Mike Coleman, it was a couple of hours before Istre could be extracted from the vehicle while the GSP worked the scene. The GSP is continuing to investigate the accident, and charges are pending.
Coleman said firefighters were called to the accident at 6:06 p.m.
At 5:52 p.m. that same evening, firefighters were called to a home at 2417 Lee Avenue in Tifton to a structure fire. Coleman said no one was home at the time, and the damage was at 25 to 50 percent. The chief added that the state arson inspector is conducting an investigation, and the fire is of a suspicious nature.
According to a report from the Tifton Police Department, a neighbor saw two teenage males set the residence on fire in an unknown fashion, then jump the fence in the backyard, disappearing into the woods located behind the home. Law enforcement personnel searched the woods, but found no one and no evidence relating to the fire.
One of the teenagers is described as white, around 5 feet tall and skinny, with blonde hair. He was wearing a blue shirt with tan pants. The other is described as mixed or Latino, about 6 feet tall and of medium build, and was wearing a red shirt.
Another neighbor also told officers she saw the males, matching the same description, jump the fence just after the fire began.
On Friday morning, firefighters were called to 210 Tyson Avenue in Tifton for another structure fire. The home sustained significant damages, at 50 percent, Coleman said. There were no injuries, although the family has been displaced. Coleman said it was approximately an hour before Red Cross representatives could be on the scene to take the family to shelter, so local firefighters fed them breakfast while they waited.
Coleman said the state arson investigator determined the cause of the fire was electrical, and sparked near the water heater in the home.