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Firefighter injured in blaze; family escapes unharmed

LAWRENCEVILLE - A family of five escaped an early morning house fire unharmed Wednesday although a Gwinnett County firefighter battling the flames suffered minor injuries.

Lt. Thomas Rutledge, Gwinnett County Fire Department spokesman, said a firefighter working to extinguish flames at a home at 880 Cremins Road was injured when he fell partially through the fire-weakened floor of the second story of the home.

He said the man's injuries were due to a hot ember that fell into his boot when his leg slipped through the floor. Rutledge said the firefighter acquired no injuries from the fall.

The firefighter was taken to Gwinnett Medical Center for treatment after crew members pulled him from the home.

"It's unfortunate he was injured, but fortunately it was only minor injuries and he will be OK," Rutledge said.

The name of the injured firefighter is not being released due to state privacy laws, he said.

Rutledge said firefighters believe the flames started accidentally.

"The fire was determined to have been started by a candle burning in a child's room on the second floor," Rutledge said.

He said the mother and four children living in the rental home escaped without injuries.

"One of the kids woke up and smelled smoke and noticed the fire and told the others in the home, and they were able to escape," Rutledge said.

The fire began about 3:30 a.m. Wednesday, Rutledge said, and caused heavy damage to the second floor and attic, sending smoke throughout the remainder of the home.

"We're fortunate the occupants weren't hurt based on the amount of fire," he said. "We're very fortunate they escaped uninjured."

He said the American Red Cross responded to the scene to assist the family displaced by the fire.

Smoke detectors were reported to be in the home, but they were without batteries, Rutledge said.

"Smoke detectors should be placed throughout the home, and batteries should be replaced at least twice a year," he said.

Rutledge said candles should never be left burning unattended and should be out of the reach of children.

"Never leave a candle burning if you're gone or going to sleep. Always blow it out," he said.