Hero emerges in Harrisburg fire

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News 12 at 6 o'clock, February 22, 2008

AUGUSTSA, Ga.---An early morning fire completely destroys the home of 3 families. It happened at 539 Wrights Avenue. Teens may be responsible for the blaze.

"It moved so fast that it scared the heck out of me," said Gerald Tallington.

Debra and Gerald Tallington are surveying the damage after fire ravages a neighbor's home. It was Gerald's fast thinking that saved the family's life, says victim Latesha Blair.

"If that neighbor hadn't woke up we would have been gone," said Latesha.

"I had to go. I didn't have chance to do nothing else. I said hurry up and get them people out of there before they got burnt up in there," Gerald said.

Investigators suspect arson. They are not ruling out someone in the neighborhood, possibly even young teens looking for revenge after a fight with 12-year-old Jasmine Blair over the weekend.

"It's possible...domestic type things...yeah, it's possible," said Lt. G.B. Hannan.

Last year Jasmine got in a fight that left her with stab wounds on her arm, back, and head. Now this. "It make me feel sad because we lost everything," said Jasmine.

"It hurts me to see that somebody would actually want to harm human beings. You know...a little baby was in that house, and it didn't have nothing to do with none of that," said neighbor Debra Tallington.

"It's stressful, it's stressful, not only for me, but for the firefighters also. They see this same thing, now these people are out in the cold," said Lt. Hannan. "It's gotta be a better way of doing things because that don't make no sense to go and try to harm someone by setting their house on fire."

Investigators are calling arson the new drive by shooting. 2007 saw some of the highest rates of arson since 2002. There is an up to $10,000 dollar reward for any information leading to a conviction.

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