WOODSTOCK — After lightning struck a Woodstock house, igniting an attic fire that damaged the home of two city officials from Cherokee County on Aug. 31, residents rallied to help the couple.
Woodstock City Manager Jeff Moon and his wife Nancy Moon, the Holly Springs Community Development Director, are now looking for temporary housing and are unable to live in the house until it is repaired. Moon said he’s grateful to his neighbors and the fire department for their quick response and blessed that nobody was hurt.
“It was a direct lightning strike, and my neighbors called 911. They saw it immediately, the smoke and the actual flames coming from the attic. Because it was such a quick response, Woodstock and then Cherokee County (fire services) … they did an outstanding job stopping it,” he said. “They basically contained the fire damage to the attic, and everything else that’s damaged is smoke and water (damage).”
Moon said, although the fire has been “a challenge,” the family is in good shape with insurance coverage and has plenty of help. He’s thankful for a supportive family, friends and their Woodstock Wolverines Band “family.”
Tori Lawton, treasurer for the Woodstock Wolverines Booster Club, said Moon’s daughters were in the high school band, and both Jeff and Nancy Moon had been heavily involved with the band for five years.
Lawton said the Booster’s “Bandwagon” committee decided to help out by setting up a PayPal account for donations and they plan to arrange a food delivery service for the Moons once they’ve found a temporary home.
Lawton said those who would like to donate through the Wolverine Band Booster Club can log in to paypal.com, click “send money,” select “friend or family,” and then donations can be made to the address wwbbtreasurer @comcast.net with no fee.
Woodstock Chief of Fire Dave Soumas said the “early detection” by neighbors, and the “quick response” and “aggressive attack” on the fire by Woodstock and Cherokee County firefighters is why the house was saved from what is usually a worse outcome.
“When we arrived on the scene, there was flames and smoke showing from the top of the house, at the roof,” Soumas said. “We went up the second floor and into the attic, and saw there was heavy fire and smoke in the attic. But the guys and gals at the fire department, they put a great stop on that house (fire). Usually when it gets to the attic, it burns the whole house down.”
Moon and his wife were with one of their two college-aged daughters and 10-year-old son at an Alabama football game when he found out their house was on fire.
“Four of the five of us were there, my other daughter was at Auburn,” Moon said. “I was sitting in the Georgia Dome and I received the fire chief’s email that they had been dispatched to (my house) … He didn’t know it was my house. I read the email, that’s how I found out.”
Soumas said when the fire department got dispatched to the neighbor’s 911 call, he didn’t know he was on the way to Moon’s house.
“It just happened to be my boss, the city manager,” Soumas said.
Moon said his two biggest fears when he found out about the fire, were for the well-being of firefighters and others who responded to the fire, and for the cats inside the house.
“Everything in the house can be replaced, and the house itself can be replaced,” he said. “But the things that were important to me personally, were with me, so they were OK. Then, I was concerned with what I’m concerned with every time the fire department gets dispatched to a fire, and I was concerned about our pets.”
Because the family “has rescued a lot of cats over the years” there were six in the house when the fire started, but all of them survived the ordeal, Moon said.
“Two of them the fire department had rescued,” he said. “The one that was an outside cat (left) as soon as the firefighters came in the door, and that left three they couldn’t find. When we got back I found them, all three, huddled together under our bed, and got them out. They were really scared but in good shape and unharmed.”
Moon said his fifth-grade son’s homeroom teacher and counselor at Carmel Elementary School had checked on him and said the school system has been very supportive.
“That night we had an email from his (homeroom teacher) checking on him. … First thing Monday morning we had a call from the counselor. The school system has been great to respond and support him,” Moon said. “As I’m sure (they’d check on) any kid with this going on in their life.”
Moon said they didn’t lose everything, and he is grateful his family wasn’t in the house when it caught fire.
“From that standpoint, it was a blessing because I’m glad we were all together,” he said.
Moon said the family’s insurance is working on estimates for the numerous repairs needed, and he expects the roof to take three to four months to be replaced.
“Everything’s been moved out of the house and they’ve started doing some of the interior demolition,” he said.
Moon said finding temporary housing in the right location is the biggest challenge right now.
“Because most places want a six-month minimum lease, and what the insurance company has approved is two months, then month-to-month after that,” Moon said. “So we’re having some difficulties finding a home that would accept those terms, so that’s kind of our biggest challenge right now.”
Moon praised the emergency response teams for their work all over the community.
“Every time the fire department is dispatched somewhere, that’s someone’s life that is being affected,” Moon said. “I’m just so grateful for the men and women of the Woodstock Fire Department and Cherokee Fire Department, and police that were there. It’s very comforting to know we live in a community that has those trained professionals who are there when we need them.”