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Massive fire in Portal destroys home; no one was injured

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Firefighters from Portal, Clito and Statesboro battled a blaze Thursday night that lit up the sky as an old wood frame house in Portal burned to the ground.
    Five inhabitants – three adults and two young children – escaped unharmed, said Portal Fire Chief Christopher Ivey. Family members told him and Portal Police Chief Jason Sapp they believed one of the children, age 3, was playing in the fireplace when the blaze began.
    Central 911 received a call around 7:45 p.m. and dispatched volunteer firefighters to the scene. However, the house was fully engulfed before firefighters, including Ivey, who lives nearby, could respond, he said.
    Tankers brought water and firefighters steadily pumped streams into the blaze, but it did not seem to affect the flames. The fire shot flames that could be seen above treetops from a short distance away, and whirlwinds spun flames and thick, black smoke into twists as the fire raged.
    Firefighters worked to control the fire and keep it from spreading to nearby homes, but three houses suffered slight damage anyway, Ivey said.
    One neighbor suffered slight smoke inhalation as he soaked his home down with a garden hose, but was not transported to the hospital and was treated at the scene, he said.
    Sapp said the family – Lonnie and Brenda Morris, an adult child and two grandchildren – escaped the house before the fire engulfed the older, wood-frame structure.
    "We called Red Cross to help them and a lot of people have been calling (to help)," he said.
    Anyone who wishes to help the Morris family can contact the Portal Police Department at 865-5330 and "we will get them in contact (with the victims)," he said.
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