Oct. 5—MARIETTA — What started as a small flame overcame a steady drizzle and, less than a minute later, swallowed a simulated room built on the Cobb fire training grounds in Marietta Tuesday to show the deadly potential of home fires.
The heat of the blaze could be felt yards away, and many of the onlookers at the fire education and training event filmed the growth of the flames on their smartphones.
This year's live burn event was the fifth sponsored by Paul Davis Restoration and hosted by the Cobb County Fire Department, and it came in the middle of National Fire Prevention Week (Oct. 3 through Oct. 9).
Representatives of Paul Davis built three rooms — a kitchen, living room and bedroom — and Cobb firefighters ignited different areas of the room to show how the fire spreads, creates burn patterns and other phenomena.
As the fires grew, Ira Burnette, from the event's other sponsor, ProNet Group forensic consultants, gave onlookers lessons on fire preparedness, ignition causes, speed of spread, structural damage caused by fire, contents removal, cleaning and other topics. The group later moved inside for more lessons in lecture and discussion format.
Among the attendees were firefighters from Marietta, Cobb, South Fulton, Atlanta, Sandy Springs, College Park, East Point and other departments. A number of private insurance investigators were also in attendance.
Dennis Ham, emergency recovery manager at Paul Davis, said the event is an opportunity to partner with ProNet and provide training for government and private fire investigators in metro Atlanta. Ham said fire investigators "drive the scenarios" for the simulated fires, creating scenarios that they're most commonly seeing in modern firefighting.
The event also provides an opportunity for insurance agencies and other entities who work with fire personnel to investigate suspicious fires and share their knowledge of what kinds of clues to look for.
Cobb County Fire & Emergency Services spokesman Nick Danz said the county is happy to host and provide fire personnel for the public-private partnership event, which he said "makes all of our departments better."
Follow Thomas Hartwell on Twitter at twitter.com/MDJThomas.