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Family with relatives after Monday fire at home

ALBANY -- An Albany family lost its home to fire, retreated to the care of extended family and got help from the American Red Cross Monday.

After a quick-thinking rescue by a neighbor, 5-year-old Elijah and his father Elguen Williams, 28, are doing well and staying with other family members, said Bud Greco, Southwest Georgia Chapter American Red Cross emergency services director.

"The fire chief requested our assistance, and we responded to the scene," Greco said. "We have given funds to the family for food and clothing. They have shelter with their family. Their family has taken them in."

The family did not wish to have their whereabouts released to the media or anyone, said Greco, who added that so far, two organizations other than the Red Cross and two individuals had tried to offer aid to the family through contacting the Red Cross.

Despite what he called "an outpouring of community support," Greco said all he can do is pass on the information to the family.

The fire that gutted the single-story, wood-frame home started as an electric space heater apparently set fire to combustible material next to it, a fire department incident summary stated. After putting Elijah out on the porch, Williams fought the fire.

Neighbor Deborah Baggett grabbed Elijah from the front porch of the home while her husband called emergency dispatch from their business, Baggett's Custom Cabinets, across the street. The fire was reported under control at 10:25 p.m., the report added.

"When it gets cold, space heaters become more of a problem. People should follow the manufacturer's instructions," said Assistant Fire Chief Allen Cravey. "The heaters should be kept at least 3 feet away from anything combustible."

According to statistics from a 2005 Harvard University study, Cravey said, space heaters are responsible for 25,000 fires and 300 deaths a year in the country, including a number in Albany and Dougherty County.