Coroner: Two die on one victim's birthday in Quitman Co. house f - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Coroner: Two die on one victim's birthday in Quitman Co. house fire

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QUITMAN COUNTY, GA (WTVM) -

Chief Phil Thomas tells me when crews arrived they found a fully involved fire at this mobile home on Thomas Road. Minutes later this is all that was left -- taking the lives of 51 year old Johnny Ray Gibbs and 62 year old Carletha Peterson.

Roddrick Gibbs, Johnny Gibbs's nephew says "this day is a sad day to me cause, you know what I'm saying, I loved the both of them like a lot of people around my neighborhood."

Gibbs and several other family members tell me his uncle and Peterson shared the home together for 30 years. And they all had a special bond.

"I'd come over here, sometimes he'd come over there. We'd just see one another. We were just that close," Charles Gibbs describes the relationship he had with his brother, Johnny.

And as the family gathered around, watching the wind blow smoke and ashes from the destruction, they shared stories about the good times with the ones they've lost.

A loss the family says is more than just material for the Crossroads Community here in Georgetown.

Roddrick adds "Right now my eyes watery, but I'll forever remember the times I had with both of them. Especially my uncle, auntie too. I love them and they're going to be missed around here."

The Quitman County fire serves as Georgia's 22nd fatal fire in 2014. The state Fire Marshal's Office is leading the investigation. At this time, the Quitman County Volunteer Fire Department is calling the fire an accidental fire. The cause is undetermined.

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Quitman County Coroner James Belflower tells News Leader 9 that two people have died in a house fire in Georgetown, Ga.

According to Belflower, Jan. 31 was one of the victim's birthdays. Carletha Peterson turned 62-years-old today, and died in the fire. Her niece says they were planning to throw her a big birthday party tonight.

The other victim, Johnny Ray Gibbs was 51-years-old. His brother, Charles Gibbs, tells News Leader 9 the two victims lived together in the house, and had been together over 30 years.

Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner Ralph Hudgens says the cause of the fire does not appear suspicious. "With this tragedy in Georgetown, we've had 22 fire deaths so far this year," Hudgens said. "I urge Georgians to use extreme caution while cooking and heating their homes."

Hudgens reminds Georgia residents to make sure they have working smoke alarms on each level of their home. He says fire deaths typically rise as the weather gets colder.

Belflower says the house has been completely demolished. He also says both bodies will be sent to the GBI crime lab for autopsy.

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