Brookhaven, GA, August 30, 2016 – by Trey Benton – His home was consumed by fire Saturday. And he’s working through the process of pulling the pieces of what is left together, dealing with his insurance company, navigating a path forward.
But in the middle of it all, Brookhaven resident Joe Gorrell took the time to speak with The Post Monday to say “Thank You”, “Thank You” to all those who played a role in keeping more than 100 guests – friends, family, neighbors – safe while a fire ripped through his home. The fire was so intense more than 40 DeKalb Firefighters from seven different Fire Stations and Brookhaven Police Officers were needed to work the scene.
“In this world, nobody tells you how good people are,” Gorrell told The Post. “All they tell is the bad. In the middle of everything I’m going through, I wanted to tell people how thankful I am.”
The fire broke out in the upstairs attic in his Wimberly Road home Saturday afternoon, around 5:30 PM. It was during his 9th annual Football Kick-off Party that raises money for charity, charities that have raised more than $2 million over the years to fight cancer.
Gorrell said when he first noticed smoke, he thought someone may have been smoking. So he went inside to check it out. He made his way upstairs, opened the door to his upstairs attic and realized he had something more on his hands – a house fire. He began to get everyone out of the home, and when the home was cleared, he tried to use fire extinguishers and a garden hose to contain it, but then realized he could not.
Gorrell describes the response from DeKalb Fire Rescue and Brookhaven Police as being very quick. Calls went out to Fire Stations #2, #6, #12, #15, #18, #19, #21 who all responded en masse – some working the blaze, some providing exposure protection to homes close by on either side – Police Officers securing the scene.
Gorrell described Firefighters and Police Officers going beyond what he considered their call of duty, going into the blaze multiple times to retrieve family belongings, a suitcase with a visitor’s ID who flew in for the event, and even Falcons tickets that were on a table.
After DeKalb Fire had cleared the scene from any further threat of fire, Gorrell said Police Officer Justin Young stayed on scene to help him shuffle through what was left, in an effort to recover anything else they could from the fire, such as family photos.
While working the fire, a DeKalb County Firefighter from Station #2 on Dresden Dr. suffered from smoke inhalation and was treated. That Firefighter is reported to be fine.
Gorrell says his sister, Melissa Getchey, is helping with child childcare for his two-year-old son while things are being sorted out. He said she played a vital role in getting people out of the burning house and guests away to a safe distance. “She’s the most incredible and strongest person I have ever seen,” he said.
In the days after the blaze, Gorrell said he has received an outpouring of support from his family and neighbors with items and efforts to help him and his family while he continues to sort through next steps.
“That’s the kind of community we have,” said an emotional Gorrell. “And that’s what I am impressed about the most. Because nobody says how great this world is. But all these people came together to help me…and I really, really appreciate it. Thank you.”
Investigators are still working to determine the exact cause of the fire.
In the video attached to this Post, Mr. Gorrell describes the experience in detail and names specific individuals he would like to thank, as well as The Post’s exclusive footage of the aftermath of the blaze.