Fatal Thanksgiving fire in Athens ruled accidental, origin traced to space heater


By Joe Johnson

The Thanksgiving Day fire that killed an Athens man was determined to have been started accidentally.

Darrell Smith, 53, died after a wood shed in which he lived in the Stonehenge neighborhood caught fire shortly after midnight on Nov. 25.

Smith reportedly made it out of the building, but he had been burned severely and was pronounced dead at the scene.

“The area of (the fire’s) origin was around a heater,” said Mark Melvin, interim assistant chief of the Athens-Clarke County Fire and Emergency Services Department. “It is suspected that the heater ignited something that was too close to it.”

The shed, which was completely destroyed, was located outside a home on Salisbury Plain Drive in Stonehenge, located off Old Monroe Road in western Athens-Clarke County.

Smith reportedly had been living in the shed for some time with the owner’s permission.

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