One injured in duplex fire

LAWRENCEVILLE - After the third house on her street caught fire in two years, Mary Jackson decided to get a smoke detector.

Wednesday afternoon, she walked back from a conversation with firefighters who doused the flames at her neighbor's duplex with two smoke detectors in her hands.

"I'm going to put them in now, right now," she said. "I have a disabled mom I'm taking care of. If anything starts smoking, it'll go off. She can get out in time. Sometimes, I'm not at home, and I want her to be safe."

Jackson's neighbors on Waterbury Drive also got out in time, but one adult male resident was injured in the fire that started accidentally when his 5-year-old son was playing with a lighter, said Lt. Thomas Rutledge, spokesman for the Gwinnett County Fire Department.

The man suffered minor injuries as a result of contact with heat and flames and was transported to Gwinnett Medical Center, Rutledge said.

The fire, which started in the bedroom of the duplex on the right side, caused heavy damage to two rooms and smoke damage throughout the unit, Rutledge said. The unit on the left side has minor smoke damage, and remains inhabitable.

Neighbors said they came outside shortly after 12:45 p.m. Wednesday to see a pillar of black smoke coming from the home at 485 Waterbury Drive. The house next door caught fire about a year ago, they said, and another home on the street went up in flames a year before that.

"It's beginning to be unusual," Jackson said. "Golly, they're coming back to back."

Jackson said the residents on both sides of the duplex work at night and sleep during the day. The resident on the duplex's left side was putting clothes into his car as firefighters arrived, she said.

"He was just trying to save what little he had, I guess," Jackson said.

That resident was not displaced, but the occupant in the unit that caught fire was, Rutledge said, and the Red Cross was notified.

The man who was displaced in the fire went next door to warn his neighbor and call 911, Rutledge said. The fire was called in at 12:46 p.m. and under control by 1:07 p.m.