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Local family suffers major loss after house fire; needs community help

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A short in an electric blanket caused a fire that gutted a South Main Street home Saturday, but a man living in the home was able to get his sisters out without injury, thanks to an unidentified man who helped.
    J.D. Rountree, 83, known for Rountree Nurseries, noticed the mattress of a bed on fire around 9:35 Saturday, and was able to help his sisters, Minnie Lee, 84, and Earle Luckett, 79, out of the house, said Statesboro Fire Department driver/engineer Neal Lee.
    An unidentified man helped him, said Dot Thompson, who is also Rountree's sister.
    None of the residents were injured, but three firefighters suffered second degree burns from steam as they extinguished the blaze, Neal Lee said.
    Thompson said one of her sisters had turned the electric blanket on to warm the bed before retiring for the night. "I thank the Lord every minute Minnie was not in the bed"  when the fire occurred, she said.
    The house suffered heavy fire damage to three bedrooms, and heat damage to the rest of the house, Lee said.
    The American Red Cross was able to help Rountree and his sisters with immediate needs, said executive director Mary Ball. "As with all disasters and house fires in the area, we provided assistance for the three individuals."
    Immediate food, clothing and medical needs were addressed, but Rountree, Luckett and Minnie Lee lost their possessions and "would appreciate anything" the community provided, Thompson said.
    Household items, food items, and other daily needs, including furniture and personal items would be helpful, she said.
    Rountree and his two sisters are currently staying with relatives and can be contacted at 681-1001. The American Red Cross can be contacted by dialing 764-4468.
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