Staff Photo: Jason Braverman . Jessica Bailey, center, tries to control her emotions, as she is comforted by friends, family and Harbins Elementary School principal Cindy Truett, far left, on Wednesday morning after Bailey's nephew, Michael Cash, 8, and uncle, Leslie Cash, were killed in a fire at their home near Dacula. Michael attended Harbins Elementary.
DACULA -- The Dacula home where a father and son tragically died during a Wednesday morning fire may not have been equipped with working smoke detectors, officials said Friday.
At about 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, Gwinnett County firefighters responded to the burning home on rural Crowe Road in Dacula. It was there that officials say 8-year-old Michael Cash awoke his mother and sister to alert them of the fire, and, while trying to reach the home's den, both he and 73-year-old father Leslie Cash became trapped.
Leslie Cash is believed to have been attempting to extinguish the blaze when he died, fire department spokesman Capt. Tommy Rutledge said. Michael was transported to Gwinnett Medical Center with smoke-inhalation and burn injuries. He died shortly after arrival.
While the young boy's actions were heroic, the tragedy might have been avoided altogether, Rutledge said.
"According to fire investigators, there was no evidence of a working smoke detector in the home," he said Friday.
"This tragic fire is a prime example of why a working smoke detector and home fire escape plan are so important," he added. "The more smoke detectors, the earlier you will know there's a fire or smoke."
Investigators have not yet determined an exact cause of the fire, but officials said Friday that the blaze appeared to have started in the den of the home in the general area of a television.
"The exact cause will be difficult to determine due to the magnitude of the damage in that particular area of the room," Rutledge said.
Funeral services for Leslie and Michael Cash are planned this afternoon at the Lawrenceville chapel of the Tim Stewart Funeral Home, followed by burial at Ebenezer Baptist Church Cemetery in Bethlehem.
Donations to the "Les and Michael Memorial Fund," which will be used to assist surviving family members, can be made at Gwinnett Federal Credit Union branches. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.gwinnettfcu.org.