Two Jones County families are displaced Wednesday after their homes burned down Tuesday.

Jeffrey Butler says only one word describes how he felt seeing his Jones County home destroyed -- heartbroken.

He, his wife, their two kids and grandchild escaped before their Smith Lane house was engulfed in flames early Tuesday.

"By the time we got out the back door, the fire had swept the living room and started going down the hallway," Butler said.

Another family on Monticello Highway lost their home, too, just hours after the Butlers.

Jones County Fire Chief Don Graham says generators caused both fires.

The two families had lost power during Irma and planned to use generators until power was restored.

"It doesn't faze you and you don't think about it until it does happen like this," Graham said.

Graham says people often misuse their generators and he offers a few tips.

  • He says before you purchase a generator, determine what you'll use it for.

  • He says you should buy a generator with enough wattage to run all that you need it to.

  • Next he says to make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector. Generators put off that gas and it could be deadly if it leaks into your home.

  • Graham says you should place your generator at least 15 feet from your home, in a space that is NOT enclosed.

  • He also says to monitor your generator constantly. Turn it off at night and run it only when you can make sure everything is working properly.

Butler says he's learned a valuable lesson and is just glad he and his family escaped before it was too late.

"I got my children, I got my wife, so that's the bottom line," Butler said.

The Butler family is staying in a motel their insurance company arranged for them. If you'd like to help the Butler family, you can call Jarnetta Butler at 478-973-5601.


Fires caused by generators caused extensive damage to two homes in Jones County.

Fire Chief Don Graham, the emergency management agency director, said the first fire happened Tuesday at 2 a.m. at a home on Smith Lane. He said the home is a total loss.

The second fire happened Tuesday night around 11 p.m. at a home on Monticello Highway.

Two adults and four children are safe, but the home is heavily damaged.

Graham says he's concerned because so many people without electricity are using generators to power their homes.

Generators should not be used indoors because they release deadly carbon monoxide. They also can heat up when used for long periods of time.